Right Brain Vs. Left Brain: Cage Match

I get far too much amusement out of optical illusions, little puzzles, those 3D pictures of sailboats that you have to cross your eyes to see.

So, it’s little surprise that when I ran across the picture below, I spent a good 20 minutes staring at it – and not (just) because if you look closely you can tell the dance studio is chilly.

DancerThe photo is a test to see which side, the left or right, of your brain is more dominant. If you see the dancer spinning counter-clockwise, then you are left-brain dominant, if clockwise, you use the right half more. Neat eh?

Here’s a bit of info about left-brain/right-brain functions from the article I stole the picture from.


  • uses logic
  • detail oriented
  • facts rule
  • words and language
  • present and past
  • math and science
  • can comprehend
  • knowing
  • acknowledges
  • order/pattern perception
  • knows object name
  • reality based
  • forms strategies
  • practical
  • safe

  • uses feeling
  • “big picture” oriented
  • imagination rules
  • symbols and images
  • present and future
  • philosophy & religion
  • can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
  • believes
  • appreciates
  • spatial perception
  • knows object function
  • fantasy based
  • presents possibilities
  • impetuous
  • risk taking

As right-handed people tend to be left-brain dominant and visa versa for left-handed people, I’m curious which way you see her spinning. Please leave a comment with which hand you write with and what way you see her spinning.

THEN, try messing with your brain a bit. First, work on trying to get her to spin the other way. I find it helps to sort of look out of your peripheral vision at first. See if you can get it to the point where you can control which way she spins on each rotation.

THEN, to really go the extra mile, if she’s spinning counter-clockwise, grab a piece of paper, close your eyes, imagine a beautiful sunset and draw it – then look at her again. Any change? If she’s spinning clockwise for ya, do three or four multiplication or division questions and see if she changes directions.

56 Responses

  1. Spinning clockwise, but I’m right handed.

    Not sure about the test though, surely such a test should have a summetric object ‘spinning’ and symmetric lighting.

  2. I just realized I didn’t mention what I saw. Clockwise and I’m left-handed.

    Maggie also saw it as clockwise and she’s right handed, but again… Chinese don’t count (not in a sign in a public park kind of way… just in a ‘you must use your right hand or we’ll hit you’ kind of way).

    @Alex: You may very well be right. Geek 😉 I don’t know if this really has any bearing on left or right brain dominance… but it’s a trip trying to get her to spin the other way.

  3. Okay, this was seriously cool. I’m a professional artist so I really wasn’t surprised when I saw her spinning clockwise, but looking at the graphic, I really couldn’t see how she could spin the other way. Then I tried your tips and YIKES! She spun the other direction. And it got easier and easier to switch back and forth.

    Oh, and I’m right-handed.

  4. I can see her moving clockwise. The only way I can make her spin the other way is to put my hand on the table next to me and move it in a counter-clockwise manner. After 30 seconds or so she changes direction for me. I have to then do the same thing to get her to go back the other way. It’s a little faster if I squint and only look at her feet…

    I’m right handed, work in IT so use logic all the time and have just spent all morning working on drawing a beautiful picture 😀

  5. She’s spinning clockwise and I’m right-handed (and an engineer). I couldn’t get her to spin counter-clockwise until I followed Dee’s suggestion and focussed on the shadow of the pivot foot. That made it easy to change direction.

    PS neat blog – I’m in Suzhou every 3 months so I read it with interest.

  6. She keeps switching — one way, then the other. I didn’t watch long enough to be able to get her to switch as I chose, but she keeps switching of her own accord…..

    I am right handed and program computers for a living…..

  7. @Maggie: Great site! Amazing art. I’m not a painter, but you make me want to learn.

    @Mark: Another great site. As I’m learning Chinese, I’ll be reading with interest.

    @Dee: That spinning hand thing is good advice. On an aside, ever try drawing a clockwise circle with your hand, but rotating your foot counter clockwise… 😉

    @Marty: Welcome. Next time you’re in town we should drink pints.

    @Vicki: Yeah, I’m thinking more and more that it’s less to do with right-brain/left-brainedness and more just to do with just the perspective you catch it at. Still, neato eh?

  8. Stick just showed me this the other day. I have her spinning clockwise and I can’t make her turn the other way, no matter what I do. Math puzzles, counting by 7, whatever. Oh, I’m right handed.

    Stick is also right handed but he can switch the direction by looking away and looking back (at her nipples, I’m sure!)

  9. im with vicki. she keeps switching. im right handed but based on the list of left/right functions, im all over the place on which side is stronger.

    at first she was spinning counter-clockwise, but switched before i was done reading the first paragraph.

  10. I’m another artist, also right handed and when I first saw her she was going clockwise and I couldn’t work out how to make her change. BUT I found if I covered half of her body with my finger and concentrated on the leg I could make her change. Now I can make her change at will. How freaky!

  11. Can’t switch her!!!
    She’s turning clockwise and that’s it, no amount of math can make her change. I’m right handed, but do precise motions better with my left, knit and repair necklaces with the left too, go figure…

  12. Another right-hander who sees her spinning clockwise. And looking at that list of right and left brain functions, both my wife and I are equal mixtures of both, so I’m taking that with a very large grain of salt.

  13. Right handed and spinning right to start. I focused on her foot and thought about how it would work, the image and the animation, and it spun the other way. Let my mind wander a bit, thought about things in California, and it went back to clockwise. Then I really focused on it and she started break dancing.

    Well, maybe not break dancing, but switching back and forth. It looked cool until I got a headache.

  14. This is very awesome! For me she goes back and forth, sometimes withou completing a circle. I’m all over the place as far as functions.
    BTW, I’m ambidexterious with left hand dominant. I’m also an artist.

  15. At first i saw her spinning counter clockwise for a several seconds then i blinked then i saw turning clockwise. then after a while i could get her to change clockwise to counterclock wise on each pivot. What does that mean my brain is doing????

  16. Clockwise and right handed. Can’t get it to switch. But I could never get those hidden pictures to appear either. It is interesting that the majority of people here have clockwise, while the article claimed that anti-clockwise (counterclockwise for us USA people)

  17. First look says she’s spinning clockwise (I write left handed) but doesn’t take much effort for me to make her spin the other way. Maybe I use all the brain equally?

  18. Counter-clockwise. I’m supposed to somewhat of “too much fantasy” kinda guy, so guess that makes me a freak 😉

    I agree with Alex about the lightning 🙂

  19. right handed. initially clockwise in my rss reader, and then counterclockwise when i loaded this page.

    I think it has more to do with what angle she’s at when you initially see her, or when she downloads fully and increases to full speed.

  20. Out of an unscientific 6 trials, I see her leg as initially swinging toward me 100% of the time.

    So if her leg is initially on the left, she spins counterclockwise

    If her leg is initially on the right, she spins clockwise

  21. As a right handed artist, I had to try this. She spun clockwise. I waited awhile and she spun counterclockwise. I think its random, based on computer generation, not the view’s ‘ability’ to change a computer generated motion at will. Can I see the code for this animation please?

    Yes, I’m a skeptic with one foot in the world or science, the other in the arts.

  22. Hmm… first I saw her counter-clockwise, then clicked on the picture, and she was going clockwise, and every time I reloaded the picture, she was going in an opposite direction. O_o

    Then I tried the foot shadow thing, and could get her going in either direction. Weeeeird…

  23. At first she went clockwise, but then when my slow internet connection was finished loading, she went faster counter-clockwise. Can’t seem to make her turn clockwise again!

  24. Hey Jeanette, there’s no code to speak of. It’s an animated gif file, which works on the same coding as all animated gifs, frame-by-frame – just like a movie.

    I, like you had my doubts that this little “movie” didn’t change directions just to screw with us. However, I split the gif into its 34 individual frames and it very definitely only makes one complete rotation (which direction is a matter of perception).

    You can see for your self. Simply go here, and follow the instructions on splitting a gif online.

  25. I’ve tried all the tips and I can’t get her to spin counter-clockwise. Grr… I am left-handed and she just wants to keep on spinning clockwise.

  26. Right handed, spinning clockwise no matter how long I stare or think about numbers. It does halt at a certain point each spin though, just as her raised foot is pointed to the left the animation catches everytime. Is that normal?

  27. Spinning clock-wise, I’m a right-handed visual artist. And looking at the list, I’m a strange mix of the two: logical, big-picture, facts, words/language AND symbols/images, present and past, philosophy, meaning, knowing, appreciates, spatial perception (you should see me pack our van for camping trips!), object function, reality-based, forms strategies, practical, safe.
    I tried all the suggestions several times throughout the the day, but nothing I could do could get her to change direction. Although when I was reading the text, I got the feeling (out of the corner of my eye) that she had changed direction, but when I looked up to catch it, she’d still be spinning clockwise.
    I found this fascinating because many visual illusions don’t work for me at all.

  28. @Chinkerfly: Not sure if it’s normal, doesn’t catch for me. Did you try clicking the picture and making it bigger?

    @Tania: Another artist! 🙂 The peripheral thing is how I first noticed it. Try that again, but instead of looking directly at it when you perceive the shift, just hold it in your peripheral vision for a while and train your brain to understand what way she “should” be spinning…

  29. When I first saw the girl she hesitated for a moment then spun clockwise. I am right handed and a visual artist. After reading the hints, I used my right peripheral vision and was able to see her going counter-clockwise. After a few minutes of playing around with this idea I could make her go in either direction and even jig back and forth without going around in a circle. Makes my eyes tired though. Amazing and weird.

  30. I clicked on the spinning image and each time I clicked it stopped and spun in the opposite direction. I tried it a few times. It consistantly changed directions with each click.

    Oh, it was spinning counter-clockwise when I first saw it.

  31. Not only is she spinning relentlessly clockwise, when I did the exercises to turn her around, I screwed up the multiplication, and she wouldn’t spin the other way.

  32. Wow, this is pretty cool! I too am an artist. so I found this interesting. I saw clockwise and I am right handed. After I tried to see her spinning counter-clockwise, I then was able to switch back and forth. Thanks for sharing!

  33. I am right handed and saw her turn clockwise. I tried everything I could think to see her turn the other way but it did not work. All I could see was some black lines and smudges which might confuse what way she turned.

  34. okay really super creepy, If I enlarge her and stare at the “Click to big it.” she spins counter..but slow.. I can look directly at her for a few seconds before she starts going clockwise again….this is so cool, i think with practise i can make her switch back and forth

  35. so yeah, i looked at it about four hours ago, she was stuck spinning hopelessly clockwise. went to class on the uni, come back now the silly girl won’t stop spinning the other way, go figure. right handed.

  36. I’m right handed and I saw her going both clockwise and counter. I even broke it down into frames in an animation program and could see it both ways.


  37. ok so im right handed hand if i focus on her leg it can get her to swithc at first i saw her clockwise,soooo how can i use this to draw better its awsomw!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. and i enlarged it and looked at it with my,sis she looked and it while doing a blind conture drawing and i looked at it while i counted in my head(were both right handed)and we both switched it diffrently from each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. Right handed – clockwise

    When I would start to read the page and information she would switch to counter clockwise. I could see the change in my peripheral vision. This is so cool an strange.

  40. Clockwise / right handed / software engineer / musician. If you want another illusion, position the top comment at the top of your screen then use the mouse wheel (if you have one) to scroll down the comment posts. As the posts go up the screen they actually appear to move down the screen. Very weird.

  41. Wow.
    At first I saw her moving clockwise, and I’m right handed.
    Then with some concentration, I managed to get her to move counter-clockwise as well!
    Really interesting.

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