The title of this post is also the title of an article by Benedict Carey that describes works supporting the idea that the brain uses a bag of ad hoc tricks to build a streaming model of the world. Because it takes the brain at least a tenth of a second to model visual information, it is always working with old information. The argument is that the brain has evolved to meet this problem by projecting or guessing a split second into the future when it perceives motion. By modeling the future during movement, it is “seeing” the present. These two illusions illustrate the process:
Leaning toward the image makes it appear as if it is bulging.
The radiating lines trick the brain into perceiving motion forward, so the center appears to bulge.