About the Contest
The contest is a celebration of the ingenuity and creativity of the world’s premier visual illusion research community. Visual illusions are those perceptual experiences that do not match the physical reality. Our perception of the outside world is generated indirectly by brain mechanisms, and so all visual perception is illusory to some extent. The study of visual illusions is therefore of critical importance to the understanding of the basic mechanisms of sensory perception, as well as to cure many diseases of the visual system. The visual illusion community includes visual scientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and visual artists that use a variety of methods to help discover the neural underpinnings of visual illusory perception.
The contest consists of three stages: submission, initial review, gala presentation and election of winners. To submit an illusion, see the Submission page. The initial review will be done by a panel of impartial judges, who will narrow the submissions down to the Top Ten best entries. The Top Ten finalists will present their illusions at the gala celebration in Naples, Florida. The attendees of the gala (that means you!) will vote to choose the First, Second, and Third prize winners from the Top Ten finalists!
The Best Illusion of the Year contest is a one-of-a-kind event and its infrastructure and methods are copyrighted and service marked. Please donate your financial support to the contest (only $1 each year will help!) and help us promote vision science and research discoveries throughout the world.
Why a contest?
Contests have been at the core of scientific tradition since the beginning, and that’s no coincidence: contests bring out the best in us. For example, the annual Nobel Prize winners are awarded a medal and a cash prize for a variety of scientific and creative endeavors. In mathematics, the Field’s medal is awarded to those rare mathematical geniuses that push the envelope of mathematical thought. Scientific contests have often pushed scientific discovery to new heights and served to promote specific scientific fields of special public interest, such as in the historic Longitude Contest (in which a cash prize was given for the development of an accurate method to determine longitude). In 2004, the X Prize was awarded to the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks: the aerospace community will never be the same. Commonly, scientific conferences give Best Poster awards and other similar prizes to promote high quality and directed research.
In a sense, the structure of modern science is itself a vast contest. Someday, all or most of the major scientific questions will be answered. Our job as scientists is to be the ones who discover the answers, and publish them, first. Government and private grants that fund science are, at their heart, contest awards given by a committee of judges that rank the quality of submitted scientific ideas: only the very best submissions are awarded.
The Best Illusion of the Year Contest follows in this important tradition and is designed to be even more democratic and transparent than most scientific contests: 1st , 2nd, and 3rd prize awardees will be chosen by election from the attendees of the Gala Contest Ceremony each year, rather than by a small committee. The Best Illusion of the Year Contest is furthermore an optimal venue to bring visual science to public awareness and to highlight important visual science contributions to the media.
Neural Correlate Society
The Neural Correlate Society is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that promotes scientific research into the neural correlates of sensory perception, awareness, and cognitive experience. The NCS’s current main purpose is to host the Best Illusion of The Year Contest, to be held annually in Naples, Florida (during the same week that the Vision Sciences Society meets). The community served by the NCS includes visual scientists, ophthalmologists, neurologists, and visual artists who use a variety of methods to help discover the neural underpinnings of illusory perception. A critical function of the NCS is to promote the communication and translation of discoveries to public knowledge and medical advancement.
The Neural Correlate Society is committed to promoting public knowledge and medical translation of new discoveries concerning the neural correlates of sensory and cognitive experience. Our goal is to host a number of annual events that explicitly bring important new discoveries to light at the level of public awareness. Our current main annual event is the Best Illusion of the Year Contest. We are committed to promoting discoveries made by the world’s under-represented groups, and to promoting international dissemination of information concerning new discoveries about sensory and cognitive experience.