Spinning dancer

Spinning dancer - a right-brain/left-brain exercise

Cool .gif, and a bit of a rant:

Cool .gif: I found this .gif at That Wealth Advisor Guy, a blog of a midwestern investments advisor. He claims that if you see the dancer rotating clockwise, you are right-brained; if you see her rotating counter-clockwise, you are left-brained. I can see it both ways (look under her feet for a few seconds, see if she doesn’t reverse for you, too).

If this is a valid test — and I have no way to gauge that it is valid — it provides one more way to discern one more fact about people you work with, or know — or about your students with some relevance to their learning styles (I don’t know what the connections would be).

The rant: That Wealth Advisor Guy posts no links, no sources, and no citations to back up any of his claims. It may well be just a cool .gif. How could we know if he doesn’t give us the details?

His blog doesn’t allow comments.

Would I invest with a guy who doesn’t provide all the information I want, or all the information that should be legally required, and who seems unduly influenced by woo stuff he finds on the internet?

Off to see if I can find citations . . .

Below the fold: Right-brain, left-brain characteristics, as related by That Wealth Advisor Guy. Are they accurate, or backed by any research? Who can tell?

Update: Mo at Neurophilosophy debunks the left-brain / right-brain stuff. It’s just an optical illusion, which illustrates that we often see things differently from other people, but probably provides no deep insights into anything you should take seriously. Go read what he says!

uses logic / uses feeling
detail oriented / “big picture” oriented
facts rule / imagination rules
words and language / symbols and images
present and past / present and future
math and science / philosophy & religion
can comprehend / can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
knowing / believes
acknowledges / appreciates
order & pattern perception / spatial perception
knows object name / knows object function
reality based / fantasy based
forms strategies / presents possibilities
practical / impetuous
safe / risk taking

Update: Found the list and the .gif at Perth Now, from the Perth (Australia) Sunday Times. Discussion at Delicate Genius. Who invented this illusion? Who wrote the .gif? Is there any research to back up any of the claims?

19 Responses to Spinning dancer

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Still going, all these years later.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    A train illusion, just to make you even crazier.


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Sorry, Allen. That one’s already been debunked.

    See David’s explanation above.


  4. Allen Lizarondo says:

    There is no illusion in this gif. Nor it has something to do with your right or left brain. The dancer was really made to spin clockwise for quite some time then made to spin the other way around. If you look at it for a long time, you’ll notice the pattern. Just like any other gif, it just repeats the spinning clockwise and counter clockwise!


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Krunk, if you add a few more lines you’re going to start getting visitors looking for pornography.

    Nice demonstration of how the image can be perceived differently, especially with additional details.


  6. Ed Darrell says:

    Thank you, David!

    Here’s an animated version of the Necker Cube, for fun:

    Here’s a link to the University of Toronto site with explanations:

    And see this: “Tricks of the Eye, Wisdom of the Brain”:

    And see this link:


  7. David says:


    I teach this stuff at UCSD so let me clarify for everyone. This is what is called a bistable image or an ambiguous figure similar to a necker cube (http://www.utoronto.ca/sensoryphysics/necker.gif). There is not enough information to definitely say that she’s spinning one way or another. If you look at her long enough she should eventually change direction.

    Seeing one way or another does not mean anything about left vs. right brained, although Professor Jack Pettigrew (http://www.uq.edu.au/nuq/jack/jack.html) from Australia has suggested that people who are bipolar are slow switchers and schizophrenics are fast switchers. He suggests that dominant hemisphere or the brain is constantly switching and that this switch correlates with our percept of changing direction. I don’t know whether or not this is accurate, but it is the only thing remotely related to left/right brained.


  8. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks for the reference, Pam.

    I’m irritated that New Scientist says it doesn’t involve right-brain/left-brain stuff, but then offers no citation. That sort of lack of citation is what got this going int he first place.


  9. Pam says:

    Bring on the dancing girl (New Scientist)


  10. andrew says:

    post script to above : forget about the left brain right brain business we know this is an optical illusion. but to show that it is an optical illusion that has nothing to do with our physiology or psychology is that we should be able to switch reference easily once revealed the fact it is merely an illusion. in this case i had a hard time doing so unlike most other illusions. the above explanation intended to explain this.


  11. andrew says:

    this is baffling and is not a hoax. i stared at this for a LONG TIME. i figured out a way to switch direction in your perspective more or less at will. how i do it is cover up her upper body with your hand and just stare at her legs (sorry if this sounds rude to her bare with me), now you have a much easier time to imagine her switching the other way. now remove your hand and ta-da… the trick about her is that the spinning action plays trick with our brain’s ability to anticipate motion like how we catch a ball or avoid falling objects, and we cant just disarm this ability. the only way to turn off this ability and making it easier to switch our reference, is at the instance any part of her body appears at rest. notice when the legs are at rest other parts are moving, hence it’s impossible to change reference without covering the other parts. thats the best explanation i can come up with.


  12. Onkel Bob says:

    It’s an optical illusion that relies on the figure – ground relationship.
    Depending on what you initially perceive as the figure and what is the ground determines the direction of rotation. Believe it or not, it is possible to see the dancer as the ground the background as the figure. That is why looking at the bottom of the image allows the image to reverse.
    Ahh, finally a use for all those years studying Art History.


  13. Dave S. says:

    Couple points.

    1. Like dorigo, I couldn’t imagine her rotating other than clockwise. At first. But as I stared at it for a spell, suddenly she did start to rotate the other way.

    2. Am I the only pervert who thinks her boobs are physics-defyingly perky?


  14. dorigo says:

    I do not know what you are talking about when you say you can see it rotating counterclockwise. I see it clockwise, and can’t imagine how it can switch… Am I recoverable, doctor ?


  15. The first time I looked at this the dancer was definitely going in one direction. The forwarded email text suggested that looking at it for long enough would likely result in the (illusion of the) direction of the dancer switching. And lo and behold, it did. Hopefully it says something good about those of us for whom the dancer spins in both directions, and that with left-brain-right-brain tendencies, it can be both-and.


  16. Philip Roberts says:

    I saw this image a few months ago on Cognitive Daily
    (http://scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily/), however I’ve not been able to find the actual post so far, it is possible that it was on one of the other blogs at the scienceblogs site but I don’t think so. Who ever it was probably linked to the original source.



  17. Kevin says:

    I read those qualities and can’t help but think “FORER EFFECT.”


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