This Is Why Everyone Is Freaking Out Over This Photo of Strawberries

published Mar 3, 2017
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(Image credit: Twitter)

Optical illusions have the power to send the internet into a frenzy. Just think of the dress or the ham picture. Now, a psychology professor at Ritsumeikan University in Japan has a new illusion and it’s all about strawberries. Or, at least, their red hue.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a specialist of optical illusions, shared a picture on Twitter of strawberries. The image does not have red pixels, but viewers can attest that the fruit undeniably looks red. Unlike the dress phenomenon, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is probably seeing the same thing in this photo.

Motherboard reports that color constancy is at play. It’s the same phenomenon that resulted in all the drama surrounding the now-infamous dress. Essentially, the human brain color corrects an environment so that colors look the same in different environments and lightings.

“If you imagine walking around outside under a blue sky, that blueness is, in some sense, color-contaminating everything you see,” Bevil Conway of the National Eye Institute told Motherboard. “If you take a red apple outside under a blue sky, there are more blue wavelengths entering your eye. If you take the apple inside under a fluorescent or incandescent light without that same bias, the pigments in the apple are exactly the same but because the spectral content of the light source is different, the spectrum entering your eye that’s reflected off the object is different.”

In the case of the strawberry picture, a blue bias is subtracted from the gray pixels to result in a reddish appearance. Helping this illusion is the fact that our brains automatically recognize the item in the image to be strawberries. A culmination of these two factors results in our mind playing tricks on us to see colors.