This trippy image appears to be a pigment enigma.
Puzzle lovers are straining their brains over this optical illusion, which reportedly fools the viewer into thinking that they have gone colorblind. The clip was originally posted in 2018 but is currently recirculating on Twitter amid the current optical illusion craze, with people amazed by the scientific phenomenon.
In the image, created by Japanese psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a small square can be seen traveling across a rectangle that’s half pink and half blue with a blended combo of the colors in between.
The quadrilateral appears gray while moving in the pink space, then seemingly adopts a pink hue when in the blue.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead.]
However, as Kitaoka explains in the caption, while the “moving square appears to change in color” its pigment is actually “constant.”
This chameleon-esque effect is caused by a principle called the chromatic induction effect, a perceived color shift that occurs “when one colored object moves around an identical stationary object,” per a 2016 study in the journal “Nature.”
“The perceived saturation of the stationary object decreases dramatically whereas the saturation of the moving object increases,” the authors write. “These color appearance shifts in the opposite directions suggest that normalization induced by the object’s motion may mediate the shift in color appearance.”
In layperson’s terms, our minds make an assumption about the color of the moving object based on the objects surrounding it. In turn, this proves that our perception of color is subjective.
Social media was amazed at how well the illusion seemed to throw their color-vision off-kilter.
“I watched for so long! Great illusion,” wrote one Twitter illusion buff after observing the revelatory retinal teaser.
“People shouldn’t trust their eyes,” wrote another.
One observer even cropped out the squares from the illusion to prove that they didn’t actually change color.
Other viewers described the visual jigsaw as a metaphor for the importance of taking context clues into account.
This isn’t the first time Kitaoka has broken the internet with a chromatic confuser. In 2018, he posted a photo featuring a medley of strawberries, which had viewers racking their brains trying to decide what color they were.
Kitaoka later explained that the snap has a blue light filter applied to it, and the illusion it creates can determine if your brain lies to you or not.