How many of your friends can see all the dots in this optical illusion? Probably none.

Your brain literally won't let you win against this optical illusion:

There are 12 black dots in the picture, but I'd bet good money that you'll never be able to see all of them at once. If I squint, I can get four, and only four.

The illusion started taking over the internet after game developer Will Kerslake shared it via Twitter, but the picture itself originally came from the Facebook page of Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a psychology professor in Kyoto, Japan. It appears to be a variation of Ninio's extinction illusion, which is a grid illusion that scientists use to explain a big scientific concept.


Why you can't see all 12 dots? Basically, we can blame evolution.

The back of our eyes are full of light-sensing nerve cells, all crowded together, waiting for stimulation. You might think that when something interesting happens, they'd all start shouting and firing off signals โ€” a furious rush of noise. But that's not what happens.

Instead, excited nerve cells actually kind of "shush" their neighbor cells, a phenomenon called lateral inhibition. They do this because it helps the message get through โ€” if only a few people are shouting, the signal is clearer.

The end result is that our visual contrast goes up, but at the cost of muting whatever we're not looking at.

Meanwhile, our brain tries to be helpful by filling in that incomplete information with whatever it guesses is there. And since most of this picture is grey lines, our brain just leaves out the black dots.

So you're not going crazy, I promise. There really are 12 dots, but our eyes and brains do weird stuff sometimes to help us focus and survive. And as for what it means if you can see more dots than someone else? Well, the science doesn't really tell us much. Maybe you just have a different level of lateral inhibition than them, or maybe your brain is better at filling in the gaps.

Little mind games like this remind us of the limits of our brains.

We often assume seeing is believing, but optical illusions help show that's not true. Scientists are now using optical illusions to study how we perceive the world, why we react to certain things, and why we make quick assumptions. Optical illusions can teach us about bigger subjects like schizophrenia or even racism!

And, if nothing else, they're kind of trippy and fun.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yetโ€ฆ it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games โ€” and virtual reality more generally โ€” are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us โ€” Veterans included โ€” have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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