The Science of Illusions

It is through science that we can understand illusions as visual or sensory experiences that differ from reality.

So, what are illusions?

Our senses are amazing. They have evolved to allow us to accurately experience a huge range of things – colours, shapes, sounds, textures, tastes, smells, heat, location, direction…

Not only this, but we can accurately experience these things in very different conditions, from bright sunlight to the glow of a TV, from sweltering heat to frost, underwater, zooming past things in a car… the way our senses can adapt is remarkable.

But because our senses are so powerful and flexible, very rarely… they get it wrong. This creates an illusion – when we fail to perceive things accurately and experience things that aren’t there.

That is what makes illusions so special. They give us an insight into how we interact with the world, how our senses work, and they show us how brilliantly our minds are able to get it right most of the time.

The intriguing thing is that, even when we understand how an illusion works, our senses keep getting it wrong. This is how illusions teach us about the philosophy and psychology of perception. And how they give us rare, mind-bending experiences.

The TWIST museum has worked with Professor Fiona Macpherson and various artists to bring to life the science and philosophy of perception and illusion.

Book a ticket to Twist Museum and enter a playground for your perception, to explore them all.

Professor Fiona Macpherson


We are proud to be working with Professor Fiona Macpherson at the University of Glasgow, where she is Director of the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017 and a member of Academia Europaea in 2018. Her research concerns include the nature of consciousness, perceptual experience, and the metaphysics of mind.

‘Twist’s informative displays help us to understand what’s actually going on in our grey matter’