Who said you need to be on drugs to hallucinate?
In one of the lab's most recent videos, viewers are asked watch the optical illusion in fullscreen and say the letters that pop up in the middle of the screen. At the same time, lines and patterns swirl around the letters in what seems to be a random ebb and flow.
By the end of the two-minute video, the viewer should be primed to start seeing some hallucinogenic effects once they look away from the screen. The result is called motion aftereffect.
When we look at rapidly moving objects for long periods of time, the neurons in our brains adapt to the stimulus by increasing their sensitivity to objects moving in the opposite direction. For example, if you stare at a waterfall for a few minutes, then look at a rock, the rock will appear to swim upwards for a short period of time.
So by staring at the sequence of the letters surrounded by moving patterns in the video, then immediately focusing on a stationary object, the viewer's brain is tricked into seeing motion where there is none. Trippy, right? The run-of-the-mill optical illusions don't have anything on this video.
Try it out for yourself, below, but be forewarned: The optical illusion may make you feel a bit dizzy.