Thanks to animation tools, a face can be made to morph into another. But a new illusion created by Rob van Lier and Arno Koning from Donders Institute in the Netherlands shows that your eye movement can affect how dramatic the transformation appears to be.
In the video above, follow the moving red dot superimposed on the face. When it stops moving, fix your eyes on the stationary spot. Did the morphing seem to be more pronounced?
According to van Lier, when our eyes are tracking a moving object we are less aware of changes in the scene, in this case moving eyebrows and colour fluctuations. He says:
The processing of incoming retinal information is attenuated. For example, try tracking your eyes when standing in front of a mirror – it’s hardly possible
When focusing on a stationary spot, the morphing effect is much stronger and can even appear to be blown-up. “We chose to use faces because small variations in features can induce completely different facial characteristics,” says van Lier. The team came up with the illusion while trying to combine different visual stimuli.