It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Fascinating! — Updated

This puzzle has been going the rounds of the blogs down under, but I’m not sure how many of you may have seen it. When you go (and you really should) you’ll see the sihouette of a dancing woman. Well, she dances like the ballerina in your music box you had when you were twelve: an endless pivot.

Question is: does she pivot clockwise, or counter-clockwise?

If she’s going clockwise, you are primarily right-brained; counter-clockwise and you’re left-brained.

It seems I am right, right, right, right, right-brained. I did eventually figure out how to see her turn the other way, but I can only do it for a second or two. The most I’ve managed is three or four revolutions counter-clockwise, and then, suddenly and inexplicably, ding!, she’s going clockwise again. For my brain, that’s her default revolution.

How about you?

Update: Sylvia provided this link to the New Scientist blog, which claims it’s nothing to do with left- or right-brained-ness. Well, poop. It’s still fascinating, though!

October 31, 2007 - Posted by | Developmental stuff, memes and quizzes


  1. Definitely clockwise. I can only see it the other way if I try extremely hard, and then it goes back when I let my brain go.

    Comment by Kat | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  2. Interesting. I saw it only counter-clockwise at first, but once I made myself see it going clockwise, I couldn’t make myself see it counter-clockwise again!

    Comment by BookMama | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  3. it kept flipping for me. Hmm. But clockwise was the first way I saw it.

    Comment by Bridgett | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  4. I saw this a week or two ago, and initially I couldn’t even imagine her going CCW. But then I looked away for a second, and when I looked back–there she was going CCW!

    I found that the key to making her flip is to concentrate on her feet and their shadows.

    Comment by Sharkey | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  5. I can only see counter-clockwise. Apparently I am completely right-brained. I have been staring at it for ten minutes now and I cannot make it go clockwise.

    Comment by Dani | October 31, 2007 | Reply

  6. I’m with Dani. I can’t even figure out how to make her go counter clockwise. I don’t see how it’s possible

    Comment by ktjrdn | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  7. Yeah, isn’t she a trip?! I posted about her earlier this month over at my blog. I first saw her going counterclockwise and couldn’t imagine her doing anything else. That’s the default of how I see her most of the time. If I want to switch her, I have to just look at her feet and block off the rest of the screen with my hands and then it’ll sometimes switch. Or if I draw a circle going the way I want her to go on the screen and just focus on that, I can get her to switch.

    Fun and trippy!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  8. I almost feel like it’s programmed to switch directions. For the first 30 seconds, she is going counter-clockwise. Around the 30 second mark, she begins rotating clockwise. I’ve watched her 3 times and she’s done it all three times; perhaps my brain is on some sort of time schedule.

    Comment by Kendra | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  9. Neat. Clockwise at first and when I looked away to read the page she switched to counter when I looked back.

    Comment by Sheri | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  10. Freaky! It went counter-clockwise at first, and then clockwise, and then I couldn’t get it to switch back. So weird.

    Comment by sassybelle | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  11. I was just like BookMama and sassybelle. It was ONLY counter-clockwise at first, but once I managed to get it spinning clockwise, I couldn’t reverse it again. All the other brain tests I’ve taken have told me I’m nearly 1/2-1/2, so I wonder if that’s why?

    Comment by Allison | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  12. It’s an illusion but it’s not a question of right vs. left brain – it’s where you initially focus on the girl. The images are very cleverly done to make it ambiguous – that’s why so many people report seeing her “change” when they have looked away and then glance back.

    Watch her face/torso and she goes clockwise (note almost everyone reports this – where are all the left brained people in that case?) Then stare at her feet/shadow to make her go the other way.

    Comment by sylvia | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  13. Hmm, well, for me, staring at the shadow consistantly makes her change direction — but new scientist disagrees:

    Comment by sylvia | November 1, 2007 | Reply

  14. When it first popped up it was going counter clockwise (left brained). Then, I looked over to read the instructions on the left and when I looked back, it was going clockwise.

    I’m just weird.

    Comment by Matthew | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  15. huh, she changes direction, doesnt she? I watched this for ages and she stops and goes the other way from time to time? I dont think its anything to do with your brain, she changes direction!!! x

    Comment by jenny uk | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  16. arrrgghh! i cant stop watching it! If you watch her feet and the shadows it sends you crazy!

    Comment by jenny uk | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  17. I can see her change direction every now and then. I’m thinkin’ that she actually DOES change direction, but it’s so subtle, that we only think it’s our brain… 🙂

    Comment by rosie_kate | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  18. Originally I saw it moving Clockwise and another time it seemed to move counter clockwise.

    I found I could see it either way but I had to glance away to remove the original direction assumption first.

    If I looked at it and tried to assume a reverse turn it was somewhat more difficult but then I tried Sharkey’s advice and concentrated on the feet when I was able to make the assumption for the small part the entire image seemed to look like it was rotating the other way. After seeing it both ways it is easier to change its direction.

    If you do get her to stop she looks like she is twisting and waving her foot back and forth (that was hard)

    Comment by Bill | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  19. She was totally switching directions every few rotations for me. It’s a little eerie, that image, actually.

    Comment by kittenpie | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  20. Can’t make it go counter-clockwise. I’ll probably have to watch it for hours just to try to see it.

    Comment by McSwain | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  21. I did 7 screenshots and superimposed details to make it obvious she is going counterclockwise (one set) and clockwise (the other), each using that same base set.

    The image really doesn’t switch back and forth, no matter how convincing our brains are! You really can superimpose an interpretation for either direction.

    Plain silhouette images*:
    Clockwise (pink):
    Counterclockwise (blue/purple):

    *Note: I did one bit of editing. One of the plain screenshots showed an extra bit of demarcation, which I’m sure was an unintentional error. It is detailed here (before the edit):

    Comment by CT | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  22. Ah, whoops — looks like my Photobucket account is periodically getting swamped. It may not load for you.

    Comment by CT | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  23. Either I’ve got clockwise and counter-clockwise mixed up, or which way you see the image can’t have anything to do with being left/right brained. I see her spinning clockwise, can’t make her reverse even by just focusing on the feet, and am most definitely not right-brained according to their list. Not that I believe in that right/left brained dichotomy.

    Comment by addofio | November 4, 2007 | Reply

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