Natural Hallucinogen

I've been subcloning today and my brain feels like mush. (All you non-biologists have no fear, subcloning = cutting and pasting DNA). Then I get an email from an old friend ... "look at this natural hallucinogen video" ... yeah whatever, you stare at the moving pattern and then turn away and ... yow! I've never seen anything like that before ...

My guess is that having looked at this pattern long enough, our brains compensate by generating signals that counter the moving patterns. These reverse-swerving patterns then "taint" all incoming information. Any better explanation?


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That was awesome. I'm going to play that at the next lab meeting.

Yow! I was expecting to simply see the stripes floating in the air, maybe in red and purple.

If the superimposed pattern theory is true, wouldn't we see the pattern that we were staring at fade away somewhat as the superimposed correction takes effect?

By David McCabe (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

Towards the end, I started seeing it as... not moving, but sort of a series of still images. Along with odd shapes, like a pair of E's pointing towards the center, or large squares coming out of the frame. Also, it sort of seemed that the white stripes shrunk and almost disappeared at the end.

The second time I watched it (using full screen instead of just a small window), the effect went away much faster.

By lazybratsche (not verified) on 11 Jul 2006 #permalink

WOW... i watched it, then all of a sudden a large xxxxx hit me in the face!

Back when I owned an Educational toy store, we sold this gadget from Binary Arts that you set on a table and spinned, The colors were the same. It's called the Waterfall effect because it was first discovered by Plato or Aristotle (can't remember which) when they would meditate by staring at a waterfall and when they would look away, would get the same effects.

We used to freak little kids out by having them watching the spinning device and then have them look at a stuffed animal. The screams were hilarious when they thought the animals were coming alive!

I think my eyes must be wrecked or something, because I looked away and everything looked as normal (although when staring at the pattern, I did feel a little nauseous) :(

Forgot to mention, I watched it full-screen (boo-hoo, I wanna see the magic lines!!!)

It seems to work better if you watch the smaller version. Also when you look away, look at some object, preferably something with a pattern. The image should wobble.

Alex, Take a look at the circle in the figure. I think the 'hallucination' is because of the brain trying to see the circle in a pattern that appears to apparently be changing.

If you look at it and cross your eyes, you can see that it actually does stop moving.

This is something I've noticed just walking on the road-- I live up on a bluff, so you can see a long ways off, about five miles or so. When walking down my road for a while, if you stop, especially if you've been looking off the bluff, the feeling is very similar to this. although, offhand I can't remember if it feels like you are receding or moving forward>:|

The basic reason this occurs is that brain pathways/cells that respond to a particular direction of motion become fatigued while watching this stimulus and don't even respond with their normal level of noise. When you look away from this to a still scene, the fatigued cells don't fire, but other motion detecting cells still fire at a noise level. They don't balance each other out, and suddenly you see opposing motion.

Pretty cool.

(I have a Ph.D. in psychology/human vision, but all I use it for is cocktail party conversation and blog comments...)

Thanks Valerie, that makes a lot of sense (I guess I wasn't too far off.)