Trick Your Brain Into Seeing a B&W Photo in Full Color

Did you know that your brain can be tricked into seeing a black-and-white photo in full color? The 1-minute BBC clip above shows an example of this, and you can try it out for yourself.

The segment is from BBC Four’s “Colour: The Spectrum of Science.” We see Dr. Helen Czerski, a physicist at University College London, start with this black-and-white photo of Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland:


There isn’t any color in the image. To trick your brain, Czerski asks you to stare long and hard at this false color photo first:


After staring at it for a while, Czerski suddenly replaces the image with the B&W version, and suddenly you’re seeing a full color version of the photo:


Try it out for yourself by watching the video above. It’s a trick that takes advantage of what’s known as an “afterimage“, an image that continues to appear in your vision after exposure to the original image has ended.

Back in 2012, we shared an example of how you can also use your eyes and brain to process a negative photo and see it as a positive one.