This is the winner of the "2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest;" below is a description and video of the second and third prize winners.
Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and Ryan E.B. Mruczek University of Nevada Reno, USA, USA The Dynamic Ebbinghaus takes a classic, static size illusion and transforms it into a dynamic, moving display. A central circle, which stays the same size, appears to change size when it is surrounded by a set of circles that grow and shrink over time. Interestingly, this effect is relatively weak when looking directly at a stationary central circle. But if you look away from the central circle or move your eyes, or if the entire stimulus move across the screen, then the illusory effect is surprisingly strong -- at least twice as large as the classic, static Ebbinghaus illusion.
Mark Vergeer, Stuart Anstis, and Rob van Lier
University of Leuven, UC San Diego, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands
In this visual illusion one colored image can lead to completely different color impressions. The impression depend on the grey scale transparent image that is presented on top of the colored image. The 2 colored images on the left and the right are exactly the same, constructed from a combination of the color profile of the forrest picture and the Manhattan skyline picture. The grey scale image that is presented on top of this colored image reinforces the colors that are congruent with the the gray scale image and inhibits incongruent colors. As a result the color impression is very different for the image when the forrest grey scale image is presented on top, compared to when the skyline image is presented on top. This illusion is a demonstration of how in our brain color and contour information is combined before the eventual perception is determined.
Kimberley D. Orsten and James R. PomerantzIllusion of the Year Contest (via Scientific American)
Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
Short description of our illusion: When we look at two pictures that are physically the same, they usually look the same. When they are different, they look different. Our illusions show the opposite: two images that are different but look the same -- those are called "metamers"; -- and two images that are identical but look different -- we call those "anti-metamers." Our main illusion mixes the two: it shows three images, two of which match with a third one mismatching. Viewers see one image as odd, but it's one of the two identical images they see as different, an illusion we call "false pop out."