Best Illusion of the Year Contest

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Best Illusion of the Year Contest
The Best Illusion of the Year Contest.gif
Awarded for Contributions that promote public understanding of illusory perception and cognition
Country United States
Presented by Neural Correlate Society
First awarded 2005
Official website

The Best Illusion of the Year Contest is an annual recognition of the world's illusion creators awarded by the Neural Correlate Society.[1] The contest was created in 2005 by professors Susana Martinez-Conde[2] and Stephen Macknik[3] as part of the European conference on Visual Perception in La Coruna, Spain.[4] It has since transitioned to an online contest where everyone in the world is invited to submit illusions and vote for the winner.

The contest decides on the most impressive perceptual or cognitive illusion of the year (unpublished, or published no earlier than the year prior to the most recent competition). An illusion is a perceptual or cognitive experience that does not match the physical reality (i.e. the perception of motion where no such motion physically exists).

As human experience is generated indirectly by brain mechanisms that interact with the physical reality, the study of illusions offers insight into the neural bases of perception and cognition. The community includes neuroscientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and visual artists that create illusions to help discover the neural underpinnings of illusory perception.

The Best Illusion of the Year Contest consists of three stages: submission, initial review, and voting of winners. The initial review is conducted by a panel of judges who are world experts in the science, art, and science education. The judge panel narrows the submissions to the Top Ten finalists, and viewers from all over the world can vote for the winner online. The top three winners receive cash awards.

Neural Correlate Society[edit]

The Neural Correlate Society (NCS) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that promotes research into the neural bases of perception and cognition.[5] The organization serves a community of neuroscientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and artists who use a variety of methods to help discover the underpinnings of the human experience.

The NCS hosts a variety of events, including the Best Illusion of the Year Contest, that highlight important new discoveries to the public.

The Illusions[edit]

Award Recipients[edit]

The following table details the first, second, and third place recipients from each year of the contest since its inception.

Year First Place Second Place Third Place
2005[6] Title: Motion Illusion Building Blocks
Created by: Arthur Shapiro & Justin Charles
Title: Two-Stroke Apparent Motion
Created by: George Mather
Title: Elusive Arch
Created by: Dejan Todorović
2006[7] Title: The Freezing Rotation Illusion
Created by: Max Dürsteler
Title: The Infinite Regression Illusion
Created by: Peter Tse
Title:The Bar-Cross-Ellipse Illusion
Created by: Gideon Caplovitz & Peter Tse
2007[8] Title: The Leaning Tower Illusion
Created by: Frederick Kingdom, Ali Yoonessi, & Elena Gheorghiu
Title: The Illusory Contoured Tilting Pyramid
Created by: Pietro Guardini & Luciano Gamberini
Title: Where Has All the Motion Gone?
Created by: Arthur Shapiro & Emily Knight
2008[9] Title: Filling in the Afterimage After the Image
Created by: Rob van Lier & Mark Vergeer
Title: Ghostly Gaze
Created by: Rob Jenkins
Title: Rolling Eyes on a Hollow Mask
Created by: Thomas Papathomas
2009[10] Title: The Break of the Curveball
Created by: Arthur Shapiro, Zhong-Lin Lu, Emily Knight, & Robert Ennis
Title: Color Dove Illusion
Created by: Yuval Barkan & Hedva Spitzer
Title: The Illusion of Sex
Created by: Richard Russell
2010[11] Title: Impossible Motion: Magnet Slopes
Created by: Kokichi Sugihara
Title: Counter-Intuitive Illusory Contours
Created by: Bart Anderson
Title: Two Sinusoids: 6-1 Perceptions
Created by: Jan Kremlacek
2011[12] Title: Silencing Awareness of Change by Background Information
Created by: Jordan Suchow & George Alvarez
Title: Grouping by Contrast
Created by: Erica Dixon, Arthur Shapiro, & Kai Hamburger
Title: The Loch Ness Aftereffect
Created by: Mark Wexler
2012[13] Title: The Disappearing Hand Trick
Created by: Roger Newport, Helen Gilpin, & Catherine Preston
Title: When Pretty Girls Turn Ugly: The Flashed Face Distortion Effect
Created by: Jason Tangen, Sean Murphy, & Matthew Thompson
Title: Color Wagon Wheel
Created by: Arthur Shapiro, William Kistler, & Alex Rose-Henig
2013[14] Title: Rotation Generated by Translation
Created by: Jun Ono, Akiyasu Tomoeda, & Kokichi Sugihara
Title: Tusi or not Tusi
Created by: Arthur Shapiro & Alex Rose-Henig
Title: Through the Eyes of Giants
Created by: Arash Afraz & Ken Nakayama
2014[15] Title: The Dynamic Ebbinghaus
Created by: Christopher D. Blair, Gideon P. Caplovitz, and Ryan E.B. Mruczek
Title: Flexible Colors
Created by: Mark Vergeer, Stuart Anstis, and Rob van Lier
Title: A Turn in the Road
Created by: Kimberley D. Orsten & James R. Pomerantz
2015[16] Title: Splitting Colors
Created by: Mark Vergeer
Title: Ambiguous Garage Roof
Created by: Kokichi Sugihara
Title: The Day it Rained on Lowry
Created by: Michael Pickard
2016[17] Title: Motion Integration Unleashed: New Tricks for an Old Dog
Created by: Mathew T. Harrison and Gideon P. Caplovitz
Title: Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion
Created by: Kokichi Sugihara
Title: Silhouette Zoetrope
Created by: Christine Veras


  1. ^ "About the Contest". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Martinez-Conde Lab". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Stephen Macknik Lab". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Vision Sciences Society Satellite Events". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Neural Correlate Society". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  6. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2005". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  7. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2006". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  8. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2007". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2008". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2009". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2010". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2011". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2012". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2013". Retrieved 31 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2014". Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2015". Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  17. ^ "Top Ten Finalists from 2016". Retrieved 19 July 2016.