Spinning Lady | Optical Illusion | Left vs. Right Brain

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One of my favourite optical illusions is the spinning lady illusion. This is a apparent test of left and right brain dominance.

Clockwise and Anti-Clockwise (Counter-Clockwise)

Firstly let’s establish our understanding of clockwise and anti (or counter) clockwise.

Clockwise Arrow DirectionArrow Direction Anti Counter Clockwise

The first arrow is definitely pointing clockwise and the second anti clockwise

Spinning Lady Optical Illusion

Now look at this moving image below and decide which way the lady is spinning – clockwise or anti-clockwise?

Naked Spinning Lady Clockwise or Anti Clockwise

I’ve tried this with many people including large groups and it’s amazing the split opinions you receive. There are just as many people who believe she is spinning clockwise as anti-clockwise. One trend is that I have noticed accountants predominantly picking anti-clockwise as I’ll explain below.

Left versus Right Brain Dominance

In my research I’ve read that the following interpretations indicate either left or right brain dominance

Clockwise = Right brain dominance, which tends to be more creative people.

Anti-clockwise = Left brain dominance, which tends to be more logical people (hence the accountants)

If you can see her spinning in both directions equally clearly then apparently your brain is balanced!

I do have my reservations though if this is actually testing left brain and right brain dominance. Personally, I think it’s down to perspective as explained below.

See our learning and memory skills course for more information on the differences between left brain and right brain and also perspective.

How does this work?

It’s all down to perspective (or the viewing angle) – on weather you’re looking from the top (plan view) or looking from underneath. Try this with a finger moving it clockwise looking down and then raise your hand (whilst continuing to move in the same direction) and look at it from underneath. You will see that your perspective has changed the apparent direction to anti-clockwise, even though your hand is spinning in the same direction still.

Solution 1 – Left leg / Right leg Technique

This is my preferred technique. It’s all about which leg she’s standing on.

Spinning clockwise = she’s standing on her left leg and extending her right.

Spinning anti-clockwise = she’s standing on her right leg and extending her left.

It’s hard to get her to switch and I do it by just focusing on her leg and trying to block out the rest of the image.

Solution 2 – The Shadow Technique

One solution is to focus or ignore the shadow at the bottom of the image.

To make her spin clockwise, you have to try and ignore her shadow and concentrate on her toe on her extended leg. try to really switch of and really imagine her spinning clockwise.

To make her spin anti-clockwise, look at the shadow and tell your self that the shadow of her extended leg is going “over” the straight leg.

The solution made easy

If you still don’t get it hopefully the following image will help you and then you can go back and try the techniques above.

Original spinning lady clockwise and anit-clockwise ladies

As you can see – each of the images is the same, however, in the middle image the lady is clearly extending her right leg and in the right image clearly standing on her right leg.

Once you master this you will be able to get all 3 images to spin in the same of different directions.

There is also a video below which may help. White lines have been added to the images to help everyone see how the girl can be perceived to turn in both directions.
The black shapes left and right are the original source animation and are identical.

Final words

I hope you found this interesting and the explanation understandable. If you did please let me know and send me a message via the contact us page.

Stuart Warner