After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen




Monday, 4 February 2013
Adelson’s Checkerboard

Optical illusions are always a humbling experience for people who think that they see the world “the way it really is”. Often, when such people are confronted with optical illusions induced by context, the context has to be removed and then restored several times before these people can be convinced that, for example, two lines that appear to be different lengths are actually the same.

The world that we see is often ambiguous, and our visual system tries to give it a meaning on the basis of certain recurrent clues. Scientists today are familiar with some of these clues and can combine them to produce some truly astounding optical illusions. One famous example is Adelson’s checkerboard, in which one square is perceived as black and another as white, even though both are actually the same shade of grey! (more…)

The Senses | Comments Closed


Monday, 11 June 2012
The Phi Effect Is Not the Beta Effect!

illusionScience is not immune to historic errors that can be passed along for decades. One such error was the confusion of the phi effect with the beta effect, which persisted until Robert M. Steinman and his colleagues published their clarification in 2000.

The phi effect was first described in Experimental Studies on the Seeing of Motion, a book published in 1912 by Max Wertheimer, one of the fathers of Gestalt psychology. The problem was that in his book, Wertheimer did not describe the conditions for the appearance of the phi effect precisely. He said that this phenomenon occurs when two lines are projected on a screen in very close chronological succession, thus creating the impression (under certain observation conditions that he left undefined) that a fuzzily defined area the same colour as the background is moving between these two lines. (more…)

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