The Spinning Dancer

I came across this post on Well, the NY Times Health blog.  The reversible image, designed by Nobuyuki Kayahara, shows a spinning dancer that some people will see spinning clockwise while others will see her spinning counterclockwise.  I was not surprised to learn that I saw her spinning clockwise, which suggests that I’m right-brained and creative, as opposed to left-brained and logical.  However, the article points out that the image tells us much more about how vision works than how the brain works.

Click here to read the post and see the spinning dancer.  Also, I recommend staring at the image for a few minutes to see if it flips.  For most people, the dancer will eventually reverse directions, but after about ten minutes of watching intently, she was still turning clockwise to me.  Hmm…

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5 Responses to The Spinning Dancer

  1. Taylor says:

    Can I just tell you, I definitely just wasted a good 10 minutes staring at that image! Haha…so weird. I saw it flip and switch directions, but I would SWEAR it does that automatically in the animation and it’s not just my eyes. I first caught the switch after looking away for a second and was like, wait what? But then as I kept staring I saw it change directions (clockwise to counterclockwise) before my eyes (as she’s facing the back). Funny.

  2. hi,

    this image has been kicking round a little while and i’ve found two interesting responses from dancers.

    1 it only moves in one direction
    2 they can close their eyes and switch direction at will

    despise the lack of depth cues i think dancers use their knowledge of dancing to read the direction. we look for physical clues …

    if you scroll down this page you can be the images next to each other, for me the both swap directions at different times. somethings they are the same, others not.

  3. Evan says:

    Hi Matthew,

    After taking a look at the wikipedia images, I finally saw the dancer switch directions. First she was spinning clockwise, but after closing my eyes and focusing on trying to see her spin counterclockwise, she finally did. I agree that dancers probably use their knowledge of dance when looking at this image. I thought of it in terms of a rotation “en dehors” (outside) to the right or left, and watched the extended leg to determine which direction she was spinning.

    Taylor – After taking Matthew’s suggestion (see above) and closing my eyes, I finally saw the Times image switch directions. Since it’s a “reversible image”, I think it’s just an optical illusion, as opposed to an automatic switch in the animation. Mind-boggling!

  4. tonya says:

    I posted on this a while ago and got some interesting responses. http://www.tonyaplank.com/tonyaplank/swan_lake_samba_girl/?p=534
    I was never able to see her going counterclockwise to save my life, and I’m supposedly a lawyer! I wondered too if dance experience had anything to do with the way I saw her originally go; it didn’t make much sense to see her going to her left because of her footing and body position. A ballet dancer who comments frequently on my blog saw things the same way as I. It’s very interesting!

  5. When I first looked at the image spinning I saw her going counterclockwise, but when I scrolled a little and then returned my eyes to the image… switch! I usually have to look away to switch, but can do it each time. Thanks for sharing this fun image!!

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