Alleged Left Brain/Right Brain Test

left-right-brain-gifAccording to the Australian newspaper article where I got this picture, it is a “Right Brain vs Left Brain test,”

do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction

I’m a little dubious, because it doesn’t explain the mechanism, and I think most people who know me would say I’m very thoroughly left-brained. But I saw the figure turning clockwise.

Focusing didn’t change that. Shaking my head up and down like a raving loony got me to a point where the dancer seemed to be flipping back and forth and then briefly counter-clockwise, before reverting to clockwise.

[Original draft 1/19/2009.  In preparation for my blog redesign, I found draft blog posts that somehow never made it to publication. This is one of them.]

2011: Still see it going clockwise.

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18 Responses to Alleged Left Brain/Right Brain Test

  1. Just me says:

    Always thought of myself as left brained. I see it going clockwise and can’t for the life of me see it going counter-clockwise no matter how hard I try.

  2. Greg says:

    Michael, agreed! When I first saw this story, I couldn’t for the life of me get it to turn counter-clockwise and like you, I quite fancy myself being a left brain dominant person.

  3. James Madison says:

    It just comes down to whether or not you look down upon her, or look up her skirt.

  4. Sam says:

    “Most people see her turning anticlockwise” for the simple reason that most people know what a shadow is. The shadow indicates quite clearly an anticlockwise turn, though you can trick yourself into seeing whatever you like if you ignore the shadow.

  5. Add Site says:

    I see it going clockwise and can’t for the life of me see it going counter-clockwise no matter how hard I try.

  6. William Allen Simpson says:

    The shadow has nothing to do with it. It’s black/gray on white. Entirely lacking any directional indication at all.

    My guess is folks attracted to this site are creative, big picture types, even though they might have chosen a legal career.

    I’ve always seen the dancer going clockwise. I can occasionally force the dancer to enter a flipping mode, and can always force the shadow into the flipping mode (pivoting with the leg toward the back of the image) by blocking the darker dancer entirely.

    While I’m best known as an Internet engineer (I’m the kinda guy that always reads the directions and is very logic-oriented), I also was a prodigy professional musician, and still enjoy ballroom / contra / folk / swing dancing. I’m right-handed for small motor movement and left-armed for large motor movement. I like to think of myself as omni-brained.

    To some extent, the stereotype fits: I’ve been known my entire life as The DayDreamer. “They think of one thing, say another because their brain has already moved on to another thought. Unfortunately, their mouth is still moving.”

  7. Sam says:

    OK, I guess everyone does NOT know how a shadow works…

    Look at the small foot shadow that comes in and out of frame. It can only be from her raised foot as it passes BEHIND her body. It cannot be from her foot as it is in front, or we’d see two shadows – one in front, one behind (the only way to make this untrue is to have the woman steeply canted at an angle away from the viewer that she cleary is not). As the small shodow passes right to left, that means that her body is turning right to left when it is facing away from us.

    Hence she is turning counterclockwise, anticlockwise, with the sun, lefty-loosey, or whatever you might like to call it.

    Granted you can imagine her turning any way you like, and you might be more or less inclined to see her turning in some particular way, but with the shadow as it is, she can only be turning one way, which in my view biases, and thus invalidates, the “test.”

  8. Just me says:

    Having read Sam’s comment on the shadow – the shadow makes no absolutely no sense if the figure is turning clockwise. However, knowing the logic of the shadow, I still can’t see her spinning any way but clockwise.

    Also, trying my best to look at it, the shadow of her foot appears to be shaped as it would if the light were behind her and she was facing us – though as Sam points out, this would require a second shadow when she is facing away from us.

  9. Mike Marshall says:

    Yep. If you REALLY concentrate on the shadows on the bottom, the figure will appear to suddenly reverse direction. Took me a couple minutes, but now that I figured it out, I can pretty much reproduce that result.

    Query: I do see the figure moving clockwise at first glance. It reverses to counterclockwise for me. Do other people see this in the reverse?

  10. Kaleberg says:

    This is worrying. I don’t see the figure moving at all. Is this because I have neither a functioning left or right brain? Luckily I don’t have to use my brain all that often, so I’m jake.

  11. TD says:

    OK, so my wife is now obsessively calling out “Clockwise–now its changed–now it’s back again”–and has bookmarked the test so she can keep trying. Me, it’s clockwise no matter what I do. Never moves.

  12. sally says:

    i see it going both ways. like i can blink and see her going counterclock and blink again and see her going clock. a couple times i didnt even blink and she just switched, it was kinda weird. >.<

  13. nimrod says:

    Man I look at it and every now and then in brief moments it switches both ways.I think the web designer just makes it switch back and forth.

  14. ishlikesortof says:

    I read nimrod’s comment and by focusing on the toe of the shadow and imaging her changing direction she does it for me on command. Should i be worried?

  15. Golden Girl says:

    I keep looking at her and she just keeps switching back and forth….

  16. The Million Zim-Dollar Man says:

    Weird. I never noticed the shadow until Sam mentioned it (4th comment)

    So I suppose it has something to do with left-brain people looking at the details and then putting the information together to get “the big picture”.

    Whatever the answer is, we’re all wasting our time. Get back to work!

  17. Pan Chen says:

    i saw dancer in the GIF picture turning clockwise if i used my right brain (i take my right head on top or see by my right eyes) and the dancer in the GIF picture turning anti clockwise if i used my left brain (i take my left head on top or see by my left eyes).

  18. Tyler says:

    What does this left-brain vs right-brain discussion even mean actually? Don’t we all use both sides of our brain all the time? It seems misleading to imply that any person is actually dominantly using the left-side vs. right-side of the brain.

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