The Blind Spot
One of the most dramatic experiments to perform is the demonstration of the blind spot. The blind spot is the area on the retina without receptors that respond to light. Therefore an image that falls on this region will NOT be seen. It is in this region that the optic nerve exits the eye on its way to the brain. To find your blind spot, look at the image below or draw it on a piece of paper.
To draw the blind spot tester on a piece of paper, make a small dot on the left side separated by about 6-8 inches from a small + on the right side. Close your right eye. Hold the image (or place your head from the computer monitor) about 20 inches away. With your left eye, look at the +. Slowly bring the image (or move your head) closer while looking at the +. At a certain distance, the dot will disappear from sight…this is when the dot falls on the blind spot of your retina. Reverse the process. Close your left eye and look at the dot with your right eye. Move the image slowly closer to you and the + should disappear.
Two eyes are better than one, especially when it comes to depth perception. Depth perception is the ability to judge objects that are nearer or farther than others. To demonstrate the difference of using one vs. two eyes to judge depth hold the ends a pencil, one in each hand. Hold them either vertically or horizontally facing each other at arms-length from your body. With one eye closed, try to touch the end of the pencils together. Now try with two eyes: it should be much easier. This is because each eye looks at the image from a different angle. This experiment can also be done with your fingers, but pencils make the effect a bit more dramatic.
What you see is not always what is there. Or is it? The eye can play tricks on the brain. Here are a few illusions that demonstrate this point.
The Magic Cube
Stare at the middle of the picture with black squares between 15 to 30 seconds. Are those really dots that appear at the corners of the squares? What happens if you focus on a dot? Now look at the middle of the picture with the white squares. Do you see the dots again? What color are they this time?
Here’s an example of creating an afterimage. Can you put the fish in the bowl? Try this. Stare at the yellow stripe in the middle of the fish in the picture below for about 15-30 seconds. Then move your gaze to the fish bowl. You should see a fish of a different color in the bowl. It helps if you keep your head still and blink once or twice after you move your eyes to the bowl. The afterimage will last about five seconds.
What’s Happening? In the retina of your eyes, there are three types of color receptors (cones) that are most sensitive to either red, blue or green. When you stare at a particular color for too long, these receptors get “tired” or “fatigued.” When you then look at a different background, the receptors that are tired do not work as well. Therefore, the information from all of the different color receptors is not in balance. Therefore, you see the color “afterimages.”
Do you have “X-Ray Vision?” You may be able to see through your own hand with this simple illusion. Roll up a piece of notebook paper into a tube. The diameter of the tube should be about 0.5 inch. Hold up your left hand in front of you. Hold the tube right next to the bottom of your left “pointer” finger in between you thumb.
Look through the tube with your RIGHT eye AND keep your left eye open too. What you should see is a hole in your left hand!! Why? Because your brain is getting two different images…one of the hole in the paper and one of your left hand.