A week or so ago, I wrote about the counter-clockwise/clockwise spinning dancer, which got a few comments from folks. The test presumably determined if you are a right-brained or left-brained person.
Well...not so much.
If the test sounds flawed, that’s not just because one shouldn’t use spinning dancers to characterize their brain strengths. Rather, the test is coming up inaccurate because it provides a crude view of the “lateralization of brain function,” or the concept that each side of the human brain specializes in certain mental activities.
So what does the spinning dancer tell us? The whole test is more of an optical illusion than anything else, according to Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine who blogs on NeuroLogica. When our brains process visual images to make some order or sense of the world, they have to make assumptions. The dancer is just a two dimensional image switching back and forth, but our brains process it as a three dimensional spinning object.
Depending on the assumptions made and visual cues picked up, your brain can make the dancer spin either way. When my friend first sent the test to me, I saw it go clockwise…then switch to counterclockwise as I was staring at the screen. What this tells me about my personality and mental abilities is hardly a no-brainer – the brain test connection to our mental strengths and weaknesses is nonexistent.
And so it goes. Good while it lasted.