ELi5: What are the colors and shapes I see when I’m in a 100% pitch black room with my eyes wide open?


ELi5: What are the colors and shapes I see when I’m in a 100% pitch black room with my eyes wide open?

In: Biology

Those shapes and colours are called ‘phosphenes’. This is the result of your brain ‘seeing’, interpreting and offering stimuli to you.

Your eyes are connected to your brain through particular pathways. But also your visual part of the brain can be stimulated not just through your eyes, but you also see colours when you rub your eyes, bang your head, these are the result of information coming to your visual cortex part of your brain from ‘biophotons’ as sources inside your body.

Both are why they are seen in the dark. There are actually about 15 different documented shapes, stars, patterns, grids comprising phosphenes that most people see in the dark!

The parts of the neuro cortex responsible for sight, was trained, and remains ready and healthy to serve you and prove our senses and awareness active when you encounter photons to stimulate the cells, rods and cones in your eyes or chemicals and electrical signals via our brain and body and transmit those signals.

* It is your eyes doing the sensing, and your brain the seeing. Colors and shapes are proof of activity and test signals from your brain, a work out letting you know everything’s well and firing, the axions and synapses active, excersized and working. So enjoy the show!

i’ve always felt i could see the “atoms” or whatever swirling and darting around when the sky is clear and bright blue, is this the same thing?

Spelunkers are used to this phenomenon! Our eyes are so hungry for information they will make it up if they need to. It’s akin to a hallucination or mirage, formed by our brains desperation to use the optic nerve.

Yeah lmao like when I was young during at night without lights I follow this colorful weird circle bubbles and when I turn my right head the bubbles follows me up to end near the end of our vision then follows same to left.

While I see colors and fractals like everyone else, I sometimes also see weird creatures moving around, that are made out of a very dark purple static


What is it when I rub my nose with eyes closed and see bright flash of whit light?

I’m not an expert but here’s how I understand it. The neurons in your brain that process vision are organized in layers. The first layer is directly connected to the light sensitive cells in your eyes. The next layer searches for and detects simple lines and curves. These are fed up to the next layer that searches for more complex shapes, etc. But these layers also go down the stack, telling the below layer what it is expecting for it to find next. When the bottom layer isn’t getting input, like when you close your eyes, the rest of the layers are still working as best they can, looking for the things they are supposed to be looking for and telling the below layers what they expect them to see. There’s some noise in the system, so maybe on the shape layer one detector is going off saying “I think I’m seeing a square here, layer below me, I think you should be expecting to see lines and curves here”. That preps part of the line and curve layer to see those lines and curves, so they are more likely to see them. Then because they are already primed to see those things, the noise is enough to make those detectors think they are picking up what they are expected to be picking up.

Wait I’ve never heard of this. When it’s pitch black, I see completely nothing. Am I abnormal?