Akiyoshi Kitaoka (北岡 明佳 Kitaoka Akiyoshi?, born August 19, 1961) is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan.

In 1984, he received a BSc from the Department of Biology, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, where he studied animal psychology (burrowing behavior in rats) and (at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience) neuronal activity of the inferotemporal cortex in Macaque monkeys.

After his 1991 PhD from the Institute of Psychology, University of Tsukuba, he specialized in visual perception and visual illusions of geometrical shape, brightness, color, in motion illusions and other visual phenomena like Gestalt completion and perceptual transparency, based on a modern conception of Gestalt Psychology.

He became renowned through his Rotating Snakes peripheral drift illusion (see below).


Rotating Snakes by Akiyoshi Kitaoka.

In 2006, he received the Gold Prize of the 9th L'ORÉAL Art and Science of Color contest.

In 2007, he received the Award for Original Studies from the Japanese Society of Cognitive Psychology.

In 2008, his designs were the inspiration for the critically acclaimed indie rock band Animal Collective's album Merriweather Post Pavilion, which featured a leaf covered optical illusion.