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Nearly everyone has experienced seeing the flash from a camera for several seconds or even minutes after the flash occurred. This is an example of the phenomenon known as an afterimage. Not everyone is aware, however, that it is just one of the more noticeable effects of visual mechanisms that underlie all visual experience.

An afterimage is a spatial pattern that is seen when a stimulus that produced it is no longer present and resembles the stimulus. Its properties depend on the intensity, color, and duration of the stimulus and on the stimuli that follow it. It can last a fraction of a second or several minutes. It takes two forms: positive, if the colors and luminances (the light and dark regions) correspond to those in ...

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