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A phosphene is a biological phenomenon that is universal and linked to the wiring of the human brain, though it wasn’t named until the mid-1800s. We will examine the definition of phosphene, where the word came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A phosphene is an impression of seeing a ring, spot or color without light entering the eye. A phosphene is usually caused by pressure or other stimulation of the retina of the eye, though it may be caused by magnetic or electrical stimulation. The plural form of the word phosphene is phosphenes. Phosphenes are sometimes experienced by those who have gone for long periods of time without visual stimulation, like meditators or prisoners. Drug abusers may also experience phosphenes. The phenomenon of seeing phosphenes is universal, some believe that the lines, squiggles and spirals seen in primitive art were inspired by phosphenes. The word phosphene is derived from the Greek word phos, which means light, and the Greek word phainein, which means to show. The word phosphene was reputedly coined by the French physician J.B.H. Savigny.


If it’s no, the coil still makes the same sounds and scalp-tingling sensations, but doesn’t release a pulse strong enough to cause a phosphene. (Popular Science Magazine)

As a part of normal cellular function, atoms in the retina absorb and emit tiny particles of photons and optic nerve relays these light signals to the brain, which then decide whether it is real image or just a phosphene. (The Hindu)

Now physicists have calculated that the magnetic field of long lightning strokes may produce the image of luminous shapes, also known as phosphenes, in the brain. (Science Daily)