Which way is the horse walking? Moving optical illusion says a lot about your brain depending on what you see

Viewers can see the horse in the illusion moving in different directions

A strange optical illusion claims to reveal how your brain works depending on what you see in the image.

The illusion, shared on TikTok by presenter Dean Jackson, depicts the image of a horse that can be seen walking forwards or backwards, and the direction you see is supposedly linked to how you think.

Which way is the horse walking?

In the video, viewers are asked which way they think the horse is walking. Mr Jackson says: “According to Damayanti Datta, if you see the horse walking forward you are probably left brained. If you see it walking backwards then that is a sign you are right brained.”

Which way do you see the horse moving? (Photo: TikTok / @beatonthebeeb)
Which way do you see the horse moving? (Photo: TikTok / @beatonthebeeb)
Which way do you see the horse moving? (Photo: TikTok / @beatonthebeeb)

Do the left and right side of the brain differ?

It is suggested that people are either left or right-brained, meaning one side of the brain is more dominant. The theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently and first came to light in the 1960s, thanks to research from psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry.

It is claimed that people who are very logical, analytical and methodical are more left-brain oriented. This side of the brain is sometimes called ‘the digital brain’ and is better at tasks such as reading, writing and computations.

Sperry’s research says the left side of the brain helps with logic, sequencing, facts, mathematics and linear thinking.

By comparison, people who are more creative, intuitive and artistic tend to be more right-brain oriented. This side of the brain is sometimes referred to as ‘the analog brain’ and has a less organised way of thinking.

It is said that the right-brain helps with imagination, intuition, arts, rhythm, daydreaming, holistic thinking and non-verbal cues.

Theory also suggests that whichever side of your brain is most dominant can influence what your personality is like, such as whether you are more outgoing, extroverted, creative or analytical.

Is the theory actually true?

Research published by a team of neuroscientists in the Plos One journal in 2013 found there was no proof that this theory is actually true. The team found that the human brain does not actually favour one side over the other and although the left and right do function differently, they both work together.

This means that when you carry out a logical task, or work on something creative, you are receiving input from both sides of your brain, not just one.

Researchers said: “Lateralization of brain connections appears to be a local rather than global property of brain networks, and our data are not consistent with a whole-brain phenotype of greater “left-brained” or greater “right-brained” network strength across individuals.

“Small increases in lateralization with age were seen, but no differences in gender were observed.”

The team added: “Our analyses suggest that an individual brain is not “left-brained” or “right-brained” as a global property, but that asymmetric lateralization is a property of individual nodes or local subnetworks, and that different aspects of the left-dominant network and right-dominant network may show relatively greater or lesser lateralization within an individual.”

Want more visual magic? Check out more mind-bending optical illusions.