The Spinning Dancer

spinning dancer illusion

This is an image of a body spinning, but is it going clockwise or counter-clockwise? At first glance, I saw it going clockwise, but if I looked away and then back, it appeared to be spinning backwards. You can see it going either way.

This illusion is called a bistable perception, just like this one, where you can either see faces or a vase

Of course, these images trick your brain into making false assumptions. In both of these situations, there are two completely valid images that your brain can view. But it is a problem to be seeing two different things, your brain needs one image to interpret and react upon. So it randomly chooses to see one or the other. There has been much research on the subject of ambiguous stimuli, but no concrete answers on why your brain chooses one over the other. it seems to just be a random choice. If your brain has no other information to determine what is the right image to see, all it can to is quickly choose one and go on.

In nature, which is what your brain is programmed to be viewing, misconceptions like this are usually not made. But when shown something man made like this, your brain can trick itself based on all the preconceptions and assumptions it would make in nature.

A fun fact about about images like this is that people have tried to use them as personality tests for a very long time, claiming that seeing it one way means you tend to use a certain side of your brain more, and therefore possess certain characteristics. However, things like that exaggerate the differences between the sides of the brain.

sources: http://greengabbro.net/2007/10/20/the-spinning-dancer-and-the-brain/  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959438803000990

2 responses to “The Spinning Dancer”

  1. Alexie Diakite says:

    When your brain is deciding which image to see which does it usually go to in terms of the chalice? Do people usually see the same thing, or is it based on the person?

  2. Laura Kloepper says:

    No matter how hard I try I can’t get the dancer to spin counterclockwise!

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