Luminance levels of four disks modulate in time. The top two disks become white when the bottom two disks become black, and viceversa. When placed against a split background, the disks group together along the diagonals. This grouping pattern follows the contrasts of the disks relative to their backgrounds.
The red button adds/removes half of the background grating. The swimmers bob up and down when they are in front of the grating but not when they are in front of a uniform background
We present an illusion based on Hermann-grid like gratings in which the contours are quite randomly distorted. These distortions guarantee a severe reduction or complete disappearance of the visibility of the patches. Starting with these gratings we show that the patches at the crossings return when luminance edges are introduced and extended at the intersections. The ‘returned’ patches have the same relative lightness properties as they would have in a regular Herman grid (dark patches when the crossing bands are relatively light, and light patches when the crossing bands are relatively dark). In addition, the polarity of the perceived lightness difference does not depend on the lightness of the edges (i.e., whether they are dark or light). A remarkable effect here is that at the crossings the whole area between the edges is perceived to have a different lightness, irrespective of the shape of that area (i.e., whether the edges bend inward or outward etc.).
In this illusion, it appears that there is one set of black figures and one set of white figures. In fact, the two sets of figures are exactly identical. They appear different because the surrounding regions they are on cause the visual system to segment the images into layers. Thus one set appears to be white figures behind dark clouds, and the other set appears to be dark figures behind light clouds. If you cut out the figures you will see that they are identical!
Image segmentation and lightness perception Barton L. Anderson & Jonathan Winawer Nature. 2005. 434:79-83