Who’s Chasing Whom?

Ben van Buren and Brian Scholl: “Who’s Chasing Whom”. USA

Our minds are constantly on the lookout for other living beings — so much so that we can’t stop ourselves from seeing even simple geometric shapes as alive — or as *chasing* each other — if they move appropriately. But what determines whether we automatically see a shape as chasing or fleeing? You might think that the shape’s own motions are all that matters, but the new “Who’s Chasing Whom?” illusion shows that this isn’t the whole story: changing only the background motion of a scene is powerful enough to qualitatively reverse the perception of who’s chasing whom — from A chasing B, to B chasing A!

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