For the Classroom

Turning Wheel Illusion

  • Published29 Jan 2021
  • Author Lynnie Fein-Schaffer
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN

Of course, you can tell the difference between a still image and a video. Images in a video move while objects in a photo or painting do not, right?

Well, look at this still image of two wheels. Stare at the black dot in the center and slowly move your face toward and away from the image. What do you notice happening?

moving wheel with hole in middle

Is the image really moving or is it just your brain receiving some funky signals?


The wheels appear to spin because your eyes are constantly making small movements called saccades that “refresh” the image, causing you to see a still picture as though it’s in motion.

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