Perpetual Diamond Optical Illusion Is ‘Breaking People’s Brains’

by : Lucy Connolly on : 18 Jun 2019 18:20
Perpetual diamond illusionPerpetual diamond illusion@agshapiro2/Twitter

Forget about Yanny vs Laurel or the blue dress/gold dress debate for a hot second; a new kid is in town.


Enter: the ‘perpetual diamond’ optical illusion, which is so mind-blowing people have professed it has ‘broke their brains’.

The illusion was designed by researchers to test how the brain can be deceived by contrast – and let me tell you, my brain has been deceived alright.

Millie Bobby BrownMillie Bobby BrownConverse

The illusion appears to show a diamond moving across the screen, jolting up and down and left to right at regular intervals. It all sounds pretty straight forward, right?


Wrong. Because the diamond actually isn’t moving at all, staying in the same position the entire time while our brain tricks us into believing it’s on the move.

Dubbed the ‘perpetual diamond,’ the illusion somehow manages to ‘produce motion continuously’ despite never actually changing location.

See if your brain can handle it:

Freaky, right? There’s no way that diamond isn’t moving, and yet it really isn’t.

The research has since been published in the i-Perception journal, which emphasises the motion is ‘generated entirely by changing contrast signals between the edge strips and background’.

In other words, the diamond’s motion is suggested by alternating the contrast between the strips around the diamond’s edges and its background. These shifts in contrast create the perception of motion.

So, the upwards motion is created by the two top edges blinking between black and white, while the two bottom edges do the opposite. And so on and so forth.

Perpetual diamond illusionPerpetual diamond illusion@agshapiro2/Twitter

Study author Arthur Shapiro, from the American University in Washington DC, told IFLScience that we often take the perception of motion for granted because ‘we assume motion corresponds to objects shifting location in the real world’.

He continued:

However, the brain has many processes that can lead to the perception of motion, and there are many types of images that can stimulate these processes.

Obviously, people could not handle this mind-blowing illusion or the fact the diamond remained fixed in place the entire time.

If there’s still a section of your mind that needs to be blown away, look no further, because Shapiro says the ‘most remarkable’ aspect of the phenomenon is the distance check.

Basically, you just walk away from your screen and see how far you can go before the illusion disappears. Observers in the study were able to correctly identify what appears as the direction of motion even when the edges were extremely thin.

What’re you waiting for? Go try it!


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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Life, Optical Illusion, Research, Science, Twitter, Viral


Arthur Shapiro/Twitter and 2 others
  1. Arthur Shapiro/Twitter


  2. i-Perception

    The Perpetual Diamond: Contrast Reversals Along Thin Edges Create the Appearance of Motion in Objects

  3. IFLScience

    "Perpetual Diamond" Illusion Appears To Move Across Your Screen Without Ever Changing Direction