• Spinning Dancer Illusion

    Oct 16

    Look at the animation below. Do you see the dancer spinning clockwise or counterclockwise?

    This thing has been all over the internet the past couple of days — usually with the explanation that the direction you see her spinning is an indication of whether you’re “left-brained” or “right-brained” and what that supposedly says about your personality. Well, I kinda figured that whole personality thing was probably bullshit, so I went looking for the REAL explanation for why different people see the dancer spinning in different directions.

    NeuroLogica Blog » Left Brain – Right brain and the Spinning Girl
    The spinning girl is a form of the more general spinning silhouette illusion. The image is not objectively “spinning” in one direction or the other. It is a two-dimensional image that is simply shifting back and forth. But our brains did not evolve to interpret two-dimensional representations of the world but the actual three-dimensional world. So our visual processing assumes we are looking at a 3-D image and is uses clues to interpret it as such. Or, without adequate clues it may just arbitrarily decide a best fit – spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. And once this fit is chosen, the illusion is complete – we see a 3-D spinning image.

    Whether you see it spinning clockwise or counterclockwise is determined by how your visual cortex processes information and it’s got nothing to do with your personality. It is a very cool illusion, though.

    If you were wondering, I first see it as spinning clockwise but if I watch it for a while, it will sometimes seem to change directions.

    Whoever made this did a really nice job on it, by the way.

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8 Responses to “Spinning Dancer Illusion”

  1. I see it spinning clockwise. Try as I might, I cannot make it spin counter-clockwise.

    That reminds me. With all the digital clocks in use today, how many more generations will it take before the terms clockwise and counter-clockwise fall out of common usage and lose their meaning altogether?

  2. Try staring at the shadows at the bottom of the image for a while. That seems to work pretty well for changing the direction.

  3. This is SOOOOO scary!!!

    I had Dennis look at it and he agreed that it was turning clockwise. I told him to stare at the shadows at the bottom (which I had done with no effect). He did and then he saw it change direction. As soon as he said he’d seen it change, I did, too. Then I couldn’t get it to change back. Until, that is, Dennis said he saw it change back. Then I immediately saw it switch direction again.

    It’s spousal mind control. Somebody save me!!!

  4. Heh, heh…. Yep. Spousal mind control. I hate when that happens! ;-)

  5. Hi Rebecca:

    I see clockwise with occcasional shifts to counterclockwise also. The shifts happen when you look at the shadows. It is pretty neat!

  6. I’ve added some extra lines to help with the depth perception:

    http://www.krunk4ever.com/blog/2007/10/17/spinning-dancer/
    http://gallery.krunk4ever.com/v/Animated_Gifs/all-spinning-dancer.gif.html

  7. Thanks, Krunk! People, go to Krunk’s first link for an explanation of what you’re seeing on the second link. Krunk’s put together a couple of modified versions of the spinning dancer illusion that — when viewed on either side of the original image — make it much easier to get it to “change directions”.

  8. fred grimwood said on

    Open and close your eyes quickly and you should see the dancer rotating in both directions.

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