There Are Only Three Colors In This Optical Illusion

Akiyoshi Kitaoka
Akiyoshi Kitaoka / Akiyoshi Kitaoka

Take a look at the picture above. See the color blue? If you do, know that it's not really there. But there's no need to run to your eye doctor—it's actually your brain that's playing tricks on you.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a psychology professor at Ritsumeikan University in Japan, is a pro at creating optical illusions that make viewers second-guess their ability to see things clearly, as elements appear to shift, warp, and transform. One of Kitaoka's illusions (above), which was recently shared by IFL Science, uses different colored segments to form a vibrant swirl pattern that looks pink, orange, blue, and green, but in reality there is no blue in the image at all.

So what are you seeing? According to Kitaoka's website, the light green and light blue spirals have the exact same color values: R=0, G=255, B=150. But our brains process the spirals as different colors depending on the hues that segment them. The light green stripes in the "blue" swirls are sandwiched between pink stripes (which make the green appear blue), while the green stripes in the green swirls are flanked by orange stripes. Kitaoka used the same idea (known as the Munker-White illusion) on a series of hearts.

[h/t IFL Science]

All images courtesy of Akiyoshi Kitaoka.