Mind-bending optical illusion tricks your brain into thinking gears are moving

A mind-bending optical illusion is circulating on social media this week that tricks your brain into thinking stationary gears are moving.

The illusion was shared on Reddit by user dhruveishp, and has already been viewed more than one million times.

It shows three interlocking gears on a grey background, with the gears themselves flashing between orange and blue.

While the gears don’t actually move, this flashing creates an impression that they’re rotating, thanks to an effect called the ‘reverse Phi illusion.’

This illusion occurs when our eyes see sudden transitions from either light to dark or dark to light, making our brains perceive it as motion.


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In this case, the gears rapidly flash through different shades of red and blue, making our brains think the gears are rotating anti-clockwise.

Several baffled viewers commented on the video, expressing their amazement at the illusion.

One pointed out: “Three gears in a configuration like that literally can't move.”


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Another added: “Why are you messing with our brains?”

And one joked: “This has caused the gears in my brain to stop working.”

The optical illusion comes shortly after a similar illusion called 'Chunder Thunder' hit the headlines.

The optical illusion was developed by Mike Pickard and Gurpreet Singh from the University of Sunderland , and was a finalist in the 2019 Illusion of the Year competition.

Its description on the competition website explains: “In this illusion, the 17th Dutch marine artist Ludolf Bakhuizen’s painting “Ships on a Stormy Sea” is seemingly bought to life.

“The ship appears to be tossed around on a raging sea in a wild storm where the waves surge past and the clouds scud across the sky.

"With the hatches battened down, the crew are experiencing a roller coaster ride! However, this impression of wild motion is illusory.”

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