Take a look at the above image, give it a try. Try to see all the 12 dots at once. It’s fascinating, right?
When you focus on one row, another row will mysteriously disappear. So, why this is happening?
Origin of 12 black dots illusion
This illusion is known as the Scintillating Grid illusion. The illusion is named so because like stars in the night sky, the dots appear to twinkle in and out of view. The illusion was first discovered in 1990 according to Indiana University Bloomington. Japanese professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka first share the photo on facebook. Later a game developer Will Kerslake’s tweet makes this illusion famous.
How does the 12 black dots optical illusion work?
Scintillating Grid illusion takes advantage of lateral inhibition. It is a neural process that explains how an excited neuron tends to reduce the activity of its neighbor neurons in our brain. The same thing can occur when you hear and touch. For our brain the rule is quite simple, the fewer neighbor neurons are stimulated the more strongly a neuron response.
If you look closely in the picture, you might see a faint white square where the gray lines meet. This happens because of Retinal Ganglion Cells in the sheet of tissue called the retina at the back of the eye detect contrasts.
That means when you are looking at a black dot, your visual system is filling with surroundings. In the illusion, the white background with gray lines tricks the brain to think everything is the same. And we miss black dots in the background.
Then again when we try to focus on black dots they appear and everything else disappears. That’s why we see those dots disappearing and reappearing.