HomeNews & LifestyleThe Troxler Effect Proves That Our Brains Are Strange Machines

The Troxler Effect Proves That Our Brains Are Strange Machines

The Troxler effect is an optical illusion affecting your visual perception. Basically, the way it works is if you stare at something long enough, your brain sorts through what it needs to focus on, and all else disappears.

To make this more clear, let’s try it so you can experience it instead of reading about it.

No, This Picture Is Not Changing… It’s Just Your Brain 

If you focus on the plus sign in this image intently for 10-20 seconds, the entire image will fade to white.

Try it now.

troxler effect
Image: @urbanlegends.podcast on Instagram

Intense, right? Because our mind is constantly trying to sort things and make sense of what we’re seeing, sometimes certain images can become optical illusions. These types of images give us a scientific view into just how complex the human brain is.

For me, these ‘kinds of things’ don’t usually work. Remember that dress meme that everyone was making noise about a few years back? I never really got it.

I’m just happy this one worked for me so I can see what everyone is talking about! The key, I found, was to make sure not to give your retinal cells any new information to process. In other words, don’t move your eyes and focus on anything new.

What Is The Troxler Effect?

troxler effect
Image: @_andromedafilms on Instagram

The Troxler effect, also known as Troxler’s fading or the disappearing colour illusion, is attributed to the adaptation of neutrons in your brain. The ones that are vital for perceiving stimuli in the visual system have highly adaptive abilities.

This part of our nervous system helps to make sure that unvarying stimuli will eventually disappear from our awareness.

It’s a similar principle to a small piece of paper being dropped on the inside of your forearm. You’ll feel it for a short period of time. However, after a little while, the sensation just becomes a part of your felt experience. You won’t be able to feel it after a few minuets, unless of course you try to, and you think about it.

The reasoning behind it is that the tactile neurone have adapted. Because of this, they start to ignore the unimportant stimulus. Generally speaking, if you bring your awareness back to whatever it is that’s faded away, it’ll come right back.

The same kind of mental ‘muting’ happens throughout the day with all of your senses. If you couldn’t ignore a lot of what you see/hear/feel/smell in a day you wouldn’t be able to focus. For example, the hum of your fridge or the smell of

The Troxler Effect and Mirrors (Try This!)

Image: @insane_facts_and_science on Instagram

The Troxler effect and how it applies to mirror is baffling.

Myths and urban legend tend to attribute mirror illusions to supernatural phenomenon. However, oftentimes  it’s not a ghost or a spirit behind your mirror, it’s just the straight-up, simple Troxler effect.

The Troxler effect shows up when you look in the mirror by creating an illusion of a strange face. It’s actually quite creepy. Here’s how you can do it:

With dim lighting, stare in a mirror at your own face. Keep staring. Try to keep your focus on one central point like the tip of your nose. If you look for long enough, you’ll being to see illusions of distorted faces that look nothing like yours. The Troxler effect causes areas outside of your main area of focus to simply fade away. What’s left is often unnerving and sometimes even scary.

Have fun with this sensory adaptation, just make sured you don’t stare for too long!


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