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The Hering illusion is a one of the geometrical-optical illusions and was discovered by the German physiologist Ewald Hering in 1861. Two straight and parallel lines look as if they were bowed outwards. The distortion is produced by the radiating pattern and was ascribed by Hering to an overestimation of the angle made at the points of intersection. It is interesting that what yields is the straightness of the parallel lines and not of the radiating lines, implying that there is a hierarchical ordering among components of such illusion.
Proponents of a perceptual interpretation explain that such a pattern simulates a perspective design and creates an impression of depth. The Orbison illusion is one of its variants, while the Wundt illusion produces a similar, but inverted effect.
The Hering illusion as depicted here looks like bike spokes around a central point, with vertical lines on either side of this central "vanishing point". One is tricked into thinking one is moving forward. Since we are not actually moving and the figure is static, we misperceive the straight lines as curved.
- Hering, E. (1861). Beiträge zur Physiologie. I. Zur Lehre vom Ortssinne der Netzhaut. Leipzig: Engelmann
- Westheimer G (2008). "Geometrical-optical illusions and the neural representation of space". Vision Res 48 (20): 2128–2142. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2008.05.016. PMID 18606433.
- Howe CQ, Purves D; Purves (2005). "Natural-scene geometry predicts the perception of angles and line orientation". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102 (4): 1228–1233. Bibcode:2005PNAS..102.1228H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0409311102. PMC 544621. PMID 15657143.
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