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Illusion: Are you right or left brained?

Here's a nifty illusion to test dominance in your brain hemispheres. According to the lore, if you see the dancer turning clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain; if you see the dancer turning counter-clockwise, you are a lefty.

Personally, I see the dancer spinning clockwise, which means I am right-brained. However, if I cover my left-eye and stare at the image with my right eye for about twenty seconds, and then un-focus or narrow my right eye to a slit so the image blurs, the dancer suddenly changes direction to counter-clockwise, meaning my left hemisphere has taken dominance due to greater activity in my right eye (remember, brain hemispheres are contralateral). If I then close both eyes for five seconds and clear my visual memory buffer, when I open them again the dancer is going clockwise again.

Note: It was extremely frustrating for me to figure out how to see the dancer spin in the opposite direction, I couldn't even conceive of how it could be possible. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to establish dominance with my non-dominant side, but once I got it is was easy to reproduce. I would love to hear informal reports on how others fare in this test.

Posted By jamesk at 2007-10-16 12:05:09 permalink | comments
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Oguzhan. : 2014-01-23 07:33:16
Normally, I see her spinning clockwise. However, if I focus on her shadow for a few seconds, she starts spinning counter-clockwise. To make her spin clockwise again, I just need to look at something else in the room. I don't need to cover my left eye.
Davey. : 2013-09-14 13:24:50
Avecinna's (sic?) comment of 5 years ago is a good one. It points out (for me) two interesting things. Firstly, James' success with switching eyes points to the large component of belief or expectation in perception. Secondly it points out that a model doesn't have to be correct to be useful. Just look at newtonian mechanics or look further back to the tolmeic epicycles. These models work to make useful predictions, but they are not only an abstracted approximation, (as all models are) but even based on theories that have been replaced by better models. Anywho... I could best get her to switch directions by looking from a very oblique angle on my phone. Also, covering her upper body removed some visual cues that helped stabilize the perception. For the first few minutes, I too was frustrated and had a hard time believing it could turn any way other than clockwise. I then used all my mental powers to turn the lights on her so I could see more than the silhouette of this dancing nude beauty. No dice!
Roo. : 2013-09-07 08:55:08
Wow you see that if you stare at the legs it controls the movement of the girl
hmm. : 2013-07-29 08:05:46
she kept changing directions on me.
Ken. : 2013-04-12 13:06:05
This test is completely flawed. The lady spins right for a few seconds and then the image cleverly changes and she spins left. Her right leg is up and then it switches to her left leg being up. I saw this right away, can't believe you were all fooled by this.
Liz. : 2010-10-03 20:22:56
THe first time i saw it it was going counterclockwise but when i looked away in looked back about 3 seconds later i saw it going clockwise again, but when i did it again i saw it going counter-clockwise & cant see it going clock-wise again unless i really try to, then it stops & i see it going both ways. Weird...
jamesk : 2007-10-23 12:19:20
My contralateral eye test was done to see if the dominance theory was correct, and in my case it worked perfectly. By making my right eye dominant for about half a minute the dancer suddenly flips and stays there, even when I open my other eye. The peripheral vision tricks don't work in my case, I simply can't make her flip counter-clockwise unless I use this technique. I did not come up with the dominance theory, I am merely reporting my results. However, the visual cues which create the rotational context seem to be a bit different for everyone in this instance, so this is a good mystery to explore further.

BTW - I have been studying hemispheric dominance techniques while trying to learn how to ride switch (backwards) on my skateboard, and drawing with my left hand (I am right handed). I have found that instead of developing completely new skill sets for each side, there is a kind of "reach-across" conditioning that can be done to port skills learned specifically on one side of the body to the other. My left side is still feeble compared to my right (I'm right handed and skate goofy, which is right-foot forward) so I have not had any major breakthroughs, but this test says I am supposed to be right-brained as well, so the whole contralateral right/left brain things starts to break down when you take the corpus callosum into account.

omgoleus : 2007-10-21 18:32:00
Isn't this just an excuse to almost show a naked woman on the screen? :)
avicenna : 2007-10-20 17:59:37
Although it is true that the sensory neurons conducting information to the brain project contralaterally, James seems to misunderstand the way this works for the visual system. Both eyes connect to both hemipsheres. However, the left side of the visual field of both eyes goes to the right hemisphere whereas the right side of the visual field from both eyes goes to the left hemisphere. So if you want to change the hemisphere receiving the information what you need to do is to focus on a point on the edge of your monitor and see the dancer in your peripheral vision. Look at the right edge of your monitor to send the signal to your right hemisphere and at the left edge of your monitor to send the signal to your left hemisphere.

I am not convinced this illusion has anything to do with hemispheric dominance however. I predominately see clockwise movement in either case although it sometimes briefly seems counterclockwise when I send her to my right brain. Note that this is backwards from the purported explanation.

chrishna : 2007-10-18 12:15:00
It took me awhile to figure out that to switch from clockwise (my normal "mode") to counterclockwise I need to stare vaguely below the feet. To switch back I had to blink and look at the upper body. A fun exercise is to see if you can make her go back and forth without rotating completely around! I can do that by alternately and at the right time look below the feet than blink, look at the torso, then below the feet again, etc.


jedcore : 2007-10-16 22:37:35
Oh, sweet jesus with a banana in his ass!!!!!!!
When I look at this shit ah... shit....
At first I saw ONLY counter-clockwise and could only see it that way even after trying the trick that worked for you, I could still only see COUNTER. My fiance looked and could only see clockwise. She still does, I guess she hasn't figured out the way to trick her brain yet, and I'm not sure if I have either...
See, I noticed the definition of circles in the background and my eyes were suddenly drawn toward the heavier shading in the upper RIGHT corner and suddenly the dancer changed to CLOCKWISE. It wasn't until I started freaking out and hollering at my fiance about the change that I noticed it switched BACK TO COUNTER CLOCKWISE!!! Holy shit. I may be friggen wasted right now, but I bet in the morning the same shit will happen.
whitewhale : 2007-10-16 21:25:20
representing for counter-clockwise, first impression. but then I got stuck on seeing it clockwise. one strategy is to scroll down, viewing only the lower 1/3 of the movie. just watching the moving legs, I found it easy to see both directions.
silas : 2007-10-16 16:48:01
Usually it's clockwise for me, but if I squint and look at the feet so they seem like a pendulum, I can "imagine" which way she's turning, and that makes her go that direction when I unsquint and look at the rest of her. But it's easy to drift back into clockwise, and not so easy to stay in counter-clockwise.
ryank : 2007-10-16 14:53:27
I'm loving this. I too saw it spinning clockwise at first. After a bit of concentration I felt like I made it spin counter-clockwise with my mind. Very interesting example of how you can control your perception.
DaFuZzMaStA : 2007-10-16 12:44:33
Wow! what a trip. The chick first appeared going counter clockwise, then looking twice it switched to clockwise, and wouldn't change after trying for 30 seconds or so. But surprisingly if I just sit here and stare at it, it will suddenly switch directions randomly, especially if i just refocus my eyes

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