Image by Psion005 @ deviantart. Used with permission.He noted that this work might be useful for anthropologists and art historians looking at primitive art and cave paintings, where these patterns have sometimes been depicted. Subsequent neurologists have identified the hexagonal shape of structures in the primary visual cortex as a likely source for these patterns, when combined with "stripes" of neural activity (inhibition and excitation) that can occur under certain conditions, including sensory deprivation, pressing hard on both eyes, and when taking hallucinogens. These effects were even observed in some blind people.
This is related to the mathematics of periodicity I mentioned in the article on Hans Jenny and cymatics.
Jack Cowan, also of University of Chicago, has continued this interesting work and has helped develop mathematical formulas that model how these structures in the cortex generate these images. Basically, the visual cortex sends out waves in periodic bursts that ebb and flow, resulting in the amazing geometric patterns many people experience.
Geometric Visual Hallucination (Jack Cowan)
Andrea James is a writer, director, producer and activist based in Los Angeles. Her work often focuses on consumer activism, the free culture movement, exogenous mysticism, humor, and LGBT rights.