Monday, July 03, 2006

The McCollough Effect - An On-line Science Exhibit:

If you look at the black-and-white grid again, you should notice a green haze around the horizontal lines, and a magenta haze around the vertical lines. The intensity of this effect varies between individuals. If you don't see this, go gaze at the colored grids for a while longer.

I know what you are thinking: this is a simple afterimage effect. If you think so, walk away from your terminal until you think the after image should be gone. Go home and try it in the morning. Then take a look. Or better, simply rotate the image. Well, maybe that isn't so simple with a CRT, but you could rotate your head.

It is called the McCollough Effect, and was originally described by Celeste McCollough in a paper in Science in 1965. It has been the focus of on-going investigation ever since.

The effect typically lasts for hours, or even overnight. The duration can be changed by the consumption of coffee and other psychoactive drugs. One paper found that it is stronger in extroverts than introverts, and might be a reliable test for extroversion.

12:18 PM