Do designers use left or right brain?

EileenB's picture

I'm fascinated by professions that rely on both mathematical, technological skill (like Bézier curves) plus creativity and imagination.

This test proved interesting to me, and I'm curious what other typophiles see? (I'll post my results later, I don't want to skew your impressions.)

The Right Brain vs Left Brain Test
Do you see the dancer turning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more right side of the brain.
If counter-clockwise, then you use more left side of the brain.
More details about the right and left brain activities can be found here.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

I see it going both ways. hmmm

blank's picture

I can only get her to go counter-clockwise by flipping my laptop on it’s side.

ybaggar's picture

Oh yes that's it... it's just some weird optical effect!

Miss Tiffany's picture

At first all I saw was counter-clockwise. Now all I see is clock-wise.

ybaggar's picture

That thing is hypnotising. Maybe someone could explain how it works?

Stephen Coles's picture

I cannot see her move counter-clockwise, no matter how I try.

But please clarify: by "clockwise", do you mean spinning to her right? A clock is on a vertical plane, this plane is horizontal.

Si_Daniels's picture

I see a rather poor knockoff of a James Bond movie intro.

EileenB's picture

This is all very interesting to me, thanks so much for your replies. Now, I've got some kool-aid for everyone to enjoy while I rummage through your wallets. :)

Ok, I see both directions -- most of the time clockwise, if I'm reading the text, she switches directions (to counter-clockwise) in the corner of my eye. If I look back, and stare for a moment, she switches back. It seems my left and right brain are arguing (I just wish the yelling would stop.)

I have no idea how or why it works. It does seem to accurately describe me, though, because I love mechanical work and creative work equally -- I want to build the logo AND the dishwasher. Anyone else feel like it's an accurate description of your brain?

EileenB's picture

Stephen: If you take your clock off the wall and put it on the table, does it change direction? :)

jupiterboy's picture

Only clockwise for me.

Stephen Coles's picture

Nope. But only if you're looking at it from overhead. If you look at it straight on, level with the table, then it doesn't move at all.

HaleyFiege's picture

Right Brain |||||||||||||| 51.6%
Left Brain |||||||||||| 48.4%

blank's picture

This must be crap; I asked a lawyer and he sees her going clockwise.

EileenB's picture

*yanks at Stephen's clock with fishing line*

cerulean's picture

Well, the ambiguity is akin to the Necker Cube illusion: A silhouette with no depth cues makes front and back indistinguishable.

I am highly skeptical of the claim that it tests left- or right-brained thinking, because the whole idea of left-brained or right-brained people comes from a gross oversimplification of neuroscience.

I had to struggle for several minutes to see counterclockwise motion, because there are a number of depth cues present that favor clockwise: the circles that the figure's hand and foot trace in the air are seen from slightly above, and she spends more time facing toward you than away from you, just as a real dancer usually would when pirouetting for an audience. So clockwise is more aesthetic, but also more logical. Interpreted as counterclockwise, the spinning figure is seen from slightly below, and therefore does not appear to be perpendicular to the floor (which we are certainly seeing from above or there would be no reflection), but tilting backwards, and so the motion does not look as much like natural human motion following the laws of physics as the clockwise view does.

russellm's picture

she goes clockwise. And winks every time she goes 'round.

Stephen Coles's picture

Aha, I no longer feel like a dunce. By using Kottke's technique of focusing a few pixels below the image, I was able to make her spin to the left.

EileenB's picture

What happens if you focus a few inches below your clock on the table?

Chris Keegan's picture

I can only see a clockwise motion in spite of trying these other techniques.

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

I must be front and back brained. I see it equally well either direction.

mandatorycannibalism's picture

its going clockwise.

Nick Shinn's picture

I’m curious what other typophiles see?

Gratuitous sex.

pattyfab's picture

Clockwise, totally. I can't see anything else.

EileenB's picture

Very funny, Nick.
Somebody on another forum said they saw:


Randy's picture

Counter for me first.
Focusing on the bouncing foot makes it go clockwise.
The only way to get it back to counter was to focus on the shadow, then move to the rotating foot.

ebensorkin's picture

Regarding the brain; answer: yes

russellm's picture


turned out to be dust on the screen :o(

Nick Shinn's picture

Very funny, Nick.

No, that was Si. I'm serious.
You asked what I see.
I see parlour-room science spiced up for teenage boys.
That's why she's a babe, isn't wearing any clothes, and has a perky nipple.

Typography.Guru's picture

OMG! This thing is now floating around the internet like »Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy« years ago.
But there was no such research and this animation has nothing to do with brain sides.

EileenB's picture


I found it on and I was curious about it's origins, but google revealed nothing other than the test itself. Do you know more about it?

Your new Motor City book looks astoundingly gorgeous, Ralf. Have you found a publisher yet? I want to buy one!


aric's picture

I agree with Ralf, but the optical ambiguity is interesting.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

I see it going clockwise.

mili's picture

I see it going clockwise, but when I was reading the text next to it ( at the linked page), she turned anti-clockwise. And now my eyes hurt.


Right Brain |||||||||||| 44.4%
Left Brain |||||||||||||| 55.6%

bpointet's picture

Looking at the text above it, it goes counterclockwise (same as looking at it).
Looking at the text under it, it goes clockwise.

Works every time I do it.

Hiroshige's picture

What if your brain can also see the stripper pole?

I'm sooo lost... in a good way.

Quincunx's picture

I see it going clockwise. When I read the text below it, it went counter clockwise for a moment, but I tried reproducing that, but it only worked once for me.

Oh and this is nice:
Right Brain |||||||||||| 50%
Left Brain |||||||||||| 50%

dberlow's picture

"At first all I saw was counter-clockwise. Now all I see is clock-wise."
Same here. The fact that the plant foot does not flex is making my calves hurt. These people need variations.


thetophus's picture

I definitely saw it going clockwise at first, which makes sense because I definitely use the right side of my brain more than the left. But I am just left-brained enough that I can get it to switch rotation. It's a fun test... thanks for posting!

thetophus's picture

Right Brain |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Left Brain |||||| 26%

It's not much of a shock to me.

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Today I see her going counterclockwise. Hmmm.

Typography.Guru's picture

If you look at a single frame of the animation you can easily see her turned away or looking towards you. Whatever you choose to see. Since every frame can be viewed in two ways it's up to you.
But within the animation the brain has to decide for one direction. Otherwise the change of the black figure would make no sense. It is a known fact that the brain, presented with a decision with two equal choices, will rather "invent" slight differences than make no decision at all. It's part of human's survival strategy.
The decision making in this case is somewhat "chaotic", this is why the results may be different each time you try. But when the brain has decided for one direction it usually sticks to that direction. Again: this is the only logical way to make sense of the animation.
The connection to brain sides makes a nice headline, but is not very plausible.

pattyfab's picture

I went gallery hopping one afternoon with a friend and after awhile he asked me if I was left-handed. He had noticed that we tended to go in different directions around the room and wondererd if it had something to do with handed-ness. We were both righties so that didn't hold water in that case. But maybe he was on to something.

BTW in the still above I saw her facing away from me. It took some effort to turn her around towards me.

hoolia_d's picture

I saw both, and every time I look back it seems to flip directions at some point.

I know that it's not flipping, but maybe my brain has trouble making decisions...

Sharon Van Lieu's picture

Now I can get it to flip back and forth without turning.

buddhaboy's picture

Actually the appearance of the reflection (not a shadow as it's heading away from the subject) of the spinning foot only appears when the foot is traveling from right to left, and as the angle of viewing would mean the reflection would appear when the foot is furthest from th viewer, this seems to help the viewer perceive an anti-clockwise spin.

Does that make sense? It would be better if there were no reflections shown on the floor.

eliason's picture

The clockwise movement implies we're looking down at her a bit; counterclockwise implies looking up. I wonder if there's any correlation between the viewer's height (or time spent sitting vs. standing, etc.) and the way he or she sees it!

Quincunx's picture

> BTW in the still above I saw her facing away from me. It took some effort to turn her around towards me.

I think she IS facing away, actually. That, or she has her standing foot in a very awkward upward position.

inde's picture

first i saw it clockwise and after a while, counterclockwise, its as the test said, in 53 %

dux's picture

only clockwise.

and now i'm [insert synonymn for feeling sexually aroused. heavens to mergatroid. bloody censorship]

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