Visual perception begins with our retinas locating the edges of objects in the world. Downstream neural mechanisms analyze those borders and use that information to fill in the insides of objects, constructing our perception of surfaces. What happens when those borders—the fundamental fabric of our visual reality—are tweaked? Our internal representation of objects fails, and our brain’s ability to accurately represent reality no longer functions. Seemingly small mistakes lead to the very distorted perceptions of an illusory world. Like this example of Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s “Bulge” illusion, created by Mary Coffelt, Briena Heller, and Michael McCamy, in which strategically placed purple and white M&Ms distort your perception of the checkerboard, making it bulge out.
To see the illusion disappear with a single breath, watch this video: