Fish, mermaid or donkey? Optical illusion leaves Sunrise stars – and social media – stumped

An optical illusion that purports to show a fish or a mermaid has caused the biggest debate on social media since the gold or blue dress.

“If you’re right-brained, you’ll see a fish. If you’re left-brained, you’ll see a mermaid,” reads the caption for the brainteaser that’s going viral online.

Watch the Sunrise team discuss the optical illusion in the video above

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However, most people saw completely different animals such as a donkey, seal or even a kangaroo.

Debate over the image left the Sunrise team stumped during Monday morning’s episode of the Channel Seven breakfast show.

“There’s nothing but a donkey there,” newsreader Monique Wright told her bamboozled colleagues.

The optical illusion is going viral on social media.
The optical illusion is going viral on social media. Credit: Twitter

David ‘Kochie’ Koch said he could spot a seal with “the head down the bottom, it’s little flipper on the side and the tail on the top” but he “can’t get a mermaid”.

Natalie Barr suggested that the image was just a donkey and people who said they saw other animals are just trying to trick their friends.

“I think it’s just an internet joke and it’s just a donkey.”

The Sunrise team all saw a donkey.
The Sunrise team all saw a donkey. Credit: Sunrise

Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Mark Williams told Sunrise that the idea some people are “left-brained’ or “right-brained” is simply “bulldust.”

“We actually use both sides of our brains all the time, so there are no left or right brain people out there,” he explained on Tuesday.

“Everyone is using all of their brain all of the time.”

Despite this, Professor Williams said there is a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why people see different animals in the optical illusion.

“Our brain creates our world based on our memory. It’s not actually what’s out there, but rather what we think is out there,” he revealed.

“So in this case, there are squiggly lines and your brain has gone through and said ‘what does that look like?’

“Some people see a donkey because they’ve got a nice picture of a donkey in their brain that matches that, some people will see a seal, and some people will see both.”

Watch Professor Williams speak to Nat and Kochie about optical illusions below

It all has to do with the properties in the visual areas of the brain and how they receive and process information.

It all has to do with the properties in the visual areas of the brain and how they receive and process information.

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