The Illusion Only Some People Can See

Ames window illusion illustrates how we don't directly perceive external reality. Special Holiday deal! Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get 68% off a 2 year plan plus 4 additional months free. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
Special thanks to:
Prof. Phil Kellman from UCLA Psychology
Museum of Illusions in Los Angeles for the use of their Ames Room
Curiosity Show - Video on Ames Illusion:
Ames, A., Jr. (1951). Visual perception and the rotating trapezoidal window. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 65(7), i-32.
Marcel de Heer & Thomas V. Papathomas (2017) The Ames Window Illusion and Its Variations
Oross, Stephen, Francis, Ellie, Mauk, Deborah & Fox, Robert. (1987). The Ames Window Illusion: Perception of Illusory Motion by Human Infants. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 13(4), 609-613.
Behrens, R. (1987). The Life and Unusual Ideas of Adelbert Ames, Jr. Leonardo, 20(3), 273-279. doi:10.2307/1578173
Burnham, C., & Ono, H. (1969). Variables Altering Perception of the Rotating Trapezoidal Illusion. The American Journal of Psychology, 82(1), 86-95. doi:10.2307/1420609
Allport, G. W., & Pettigrew, T. F. (1957). Cultural influence on the perception of movement: The trapezoidal illusion among Zulus. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 55(1), 104-113.
Zenhausern R. Effect of Perspective on Two Trapezoid Illusions. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 1969;28(3):1003-1009. doi:10.2466/pms.1969.28.3.1003
Gehringer, W. L., & Engel, E. (1986). Effect of ecological viewing conditions on the Ames' distorted room illusion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 12(2), 181-185.
Long, G.M., Toppino, T.C. Adaptation effects and reversible figures: A comment on Horlitz and O’Leary. Perception & Psychophysics 56, 605-610 (1994).
Gregory RL. Looking through the Ames window. Perception. 2009;38(12):1739-40. doi: 10.1068/p3812ed. PMID: 20192124.
Jahoda, G. (1966). Geometric illusions and environment: A study in Ghana. British Journal of Psychology, 57(1-2), 193-199.
V. Mary Stewart (1974) A Cross-Cultural Test of the “Carpentered World” Hypothesis Using The Ames Distorted Room Illusion, International Journal of Psychology, 9:2, 79-89, DOI: 10.1080/00207597408247094
Margaret Kathleen Cappone (1966) The Effect of Verbal Suggestion on the Reversal Rate of the Ames Trapezoid Illusion, The Journal of Psychology, 62:2, 211-219, DOI: 10.1080/00223980.1966.10543786
Researched and written by Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Animations, VFX, and Music by Jonny Hyman
Ames Room VFX and additional Ames Window animation by Nicolas Pratt
Additional Music from "Life in Color" "Singularity"
Large Ames window construction by GW Construction
Video supplied by Getty Images


  • Wonka DeWitt Bukater
    Wonka DeWitt Bukater2 minuta më parë

    It remind me, like the sperm; sperm is just swiing with rotational movements, but in the microscope looks like the tail is mooving side to side. Ilutions are everywhere :)

  • Nicer Knifes
    Nicer Knifes12 minuta më parë

    I got to see the actual rotation and not the oscillation just ONCE at roughly 3:15 but after that I was not able to focus up enough anymore to not see the illusion... (edited) ok i got the trick... holy cow... even without anything in it i can now see the trueth... by focusing on the big side... really hard

  • UndeadDeparture
    UndeadDepartureOrë më parë

    1st time I saw it I saw it not illusioning and now I can't now

  • ThePeter172
    ThePeter1723 orë më parë

    Really great episode!

  • WillShackAttack
    WillShackAttack3 orë më parë

    Most of the time I see the window oscillating, but sometimes I can force myself to see it rotating.

  • Alex Walker vlogs
    Alex Walker vlogs4 orë më parë

    I see it rotating

  • Caleb Stroup
    Caleb Stroup6 orë më parë

    this is so trippy... I saw the window actually rotating when derek was in it at the beginning but i could not make my brain produce the same result with his model rotating on the table. but then the circular illusion i could clearly see that it was a rotating object and not an oscillating object. our brains are weird. something like 50% of our brain is dedicated to visual processes and changing raw visual data into meaningful information for us to navigate our world. we don't really see much of reality, we see the filtered set of objects and tools that have meaning to use in a functional way. this blows my mind! this is also why drugs like LSD make you see crazy things because they let you see more of the raw data without much configuration being effectively completed by the parts of your brain that interpret the image and filter it down to it's useful components. UPDATE: After Derek described what was happening with the perspective of the larger side always appearing closer to you, somehow i was able to use that information to alter my perception to see the window rotating instead of oscillating. CRAZY!!! i love this video!

  • SternLX
    SternLX6 orë më parë

    The really large one I only saw rotating. I think it's because of the two cables holding it up. They give me a point of reference that keeps the illusion from happening.

  • FleaFi
    FleaFi7 orë më parë

    me who is somehwat illusion resistant oh that is not trippy at all i can see that rotate, also another is the distance, closer things are, bigger theyget, that gives the illusion of it oscillating idk how t spell first time seeing this video

  • GetMoGaming
    GetMoGaming7 orë më parë

    Brain no like

  • Charles Barkin
    Charles Barkin9 orë më parë

    This. This is the video that will make me suscribe, I love when science blows my mind.

  • Templarfreak
    Templarfreak9 orë më parë

    I've noticed a few key things about this illusion. If you only look at parts of it or change your focal point frequently, the illusion kind of breaks and you can see it rotating normally. It also is very clearly noticeable that it's actually rotating at certain points in the rotation.

  • Sp1cuLe
    Sp1cuLe10 orë më parë

    i just had an head ache

  • urlocalbrainlessidiot
    urlocalbrainlessidiot11 orë më parë

    11:13 That part made me laugh for some reason

  • Ohdear
    Ohdear11 orë më parë

    Why did I watch this on 4/20 I’ve been watching for 30mins and I haven’t even haven’t even gone past the intro spinner

  • Bodor János
    Bodor János11 orë më parë

    I actually can switch between oscillation and rotating. There is another illusion the rotating dancer, some people see the dancer spins clockwise, some see counterclockwise and i can switch between clockwise and counterclockwise.

  • Ashutosh Kumar
    Ashutosh Kumar14 orë më parë

    no no no no no no no no no no no

  • Cyrus
    Cyrus15 orë më parë

    see it both ways

  • Luis Ortiz
    Luis Ortiz16 orë më parë

    Can you put a black hole in the middle

  • NoriMori
    NoriMori16 orë më parë

    7:02 Wtf, I had no idea artists did things like that back then. (Even in the modern day, I have no clue how anyone makes these by hand.)

  • NoriMori
    NoriMori16 orë më parë

    For the window one, I can switch between seeing and not seeing it more or less at will, to the extent that it feels like I'm doing both at the same time. It's slightly less challenging to me than switching the direction of the ballerina silhouette.

  • Zaanisnotcool Yt
    Zaanisnotcool Yt16 orë më parë

    Just wow just 😲 how I don’t see the rotation what I a Subbing

  • Frozen Concrete
    Frozen Concrete16 orë më parë

    3:28 ruller is in 4th dimensions

  • Diego Prado
    Diego Prado17 orë më parë

    when i rewatched the video i could control how i saw it :0

  • Chemstree's Creations
    Chemstree's Creations19 orë më parë

    I only saw the small on oscillate. The bigger ones all rotated

  • Stephen Stratford
    Stephen Stratford21 orë më parë


  • 5G Family
    5G Family21 orë më parë

    if u focus on the edge and think that it is rotating not oscilating u will see it rotating!

  • llamalambo
    llamalambo22 orë më parë

    If you can't see it rotating then look at the top left square and focus on the top right corner of it and only look at that and it should work

  • Markus Kida
    Markus Kida22 orë më parë

    The cool things is that I couldn't see it originally but now I can see both

  • Smy
    SmyDitë më parë

    Irl glitches

  • Pradelnicek
    PradelnicekDitë më parë

    idk I can normally see the paper rotating if I focus enough.

  • Bully_Hunter_420
    Bully_Hunter_420Ditë më parë

    That thing is non-euclidean

  • Dahak
    DahakDitë më parë

    When there is nothing interfering (no rubics cube or ruler etc.) I can only see the oscillation. When there is an interference I can focus on the small edge or a corner and force the rotation to appear most of the time (my brain is probably using the information provided by the interference to correctly resolve the object). The midpoint where it 'switches' is the single hardest part. If you can maintain focus on the point you can get through it, but man it takes focus. Love the brain workout!

  • Nick Nomski
    Nick NomskiDitë më parë

    14:48 the most amazing -- and discombobulating -- illusion of all

  • Nick Nomski
    Nick NomskiDitë më parë

    11:40 do I see it oscillating? Or revolving? I dunno but I do see a dude grunting in pain! 😂

  • Nick Nomski
    Nick NomskiDitë më parë

    Wonder if the Intaglios or similar flat long depictions of humanoid shapes are anamorphic, to be viewed from a small distant hill or rise...

  • Nick Nomski
    Nick NomskiDitë më parë

    Oh man, The Curiosity Show! Now that's a blast from the past!

  • Tim T
    Tim TDitë më parë

    It honestly makes me kind of mad that I can't get myself to not see the illusion.

  • Indeterminite
    IndeterminiteDitë më parë

    I noticed it's easier to see it rotating when one eye is closed

  • Pickle Supply Company Yep!
    Pickle Supply Company Yep!Ditë më parë

    Left eye dominant, i could ascertain the illusion at the quarter turns and i could feel my left eye strain while my right eye essentially stopped working.

  • daniel kinney
    daniel kinneyDitë më parë

    Best Video Man i am so glad i watched this. I kept my EYE on the RULER and then i could tell what was actually happening but just for a moment then it went back to the illusion

  • Ragna Eyjadóttir
    Ragna EyjadóttirDitë më parë

    Does not work for me - i see the rotation. Maybe because the sheet is slightly curved/bend ..

  • marc unbut
    marc unbutDitë më parë

    The only time i kinda saw the illusion is with the round version. In all the other cases i just saw it at it was: rotating. And its not just this optical illusion, in fact only 1 tricked me: the impossible buildings someone made in Lego with water. And it was working.

  • joeviking61
    joeviking61Ditë më parë

    Forced Perspective...

  • Whank McSockpuppet
    Whank McSockpuppetDitë më parë

    Got it with the ruler....aaaand lost it. Then got it again. Then...damn it!

  • Mark Jackson
    Mark JacksonDitë më parë

    The data "do" not discriminate. I appreciate this point.

  • Anas Abbas Ali
    Anas Abbas AliDitë më parë

    Thanks for the headache and nausea

  • Anamika tyagi
    Anamika tyagiDitë më parë

    At first I saw it rotating and now I am trying to look how is it oscillating.

  • ImNotRice
    ImNotRiceDitë më parë

    If you guys still can’t see it, try looking at the one at 4:07. It’s way easier to interpret.

  • Joseph Graves
    Joseph GravesDitë më parë

    I saw it! I actually saw it!!!

  • Ria Ed
    Ria EdDitë më parë

    Dereks's channel will always be THE top science channel for me, hands down :)

  • TheRolemodel1337
    TheRolemodel1337Ditë më parë

    on the big one i can see it spinning no problem the smaller ones are hard

  • Paul Lindsay
    Paul LindsayDitë më parë

    Exce11ent work!

  • Jeff Bruce
    Jeff BruceDitë më parë

    I am way too high for this...😂😂😂

  • Gurdev Singh
    Gurdev SinghDitë më parë

    The da heer circle wasn't as good, I mean i was fooled but then i noticed the point rotating and it sort of ruined i for me

  • Arvensis Andromeda
    Arvensis AndromedaDitë më parë

    I'd love to see these in video games...

  • Woody Plank
    Woody PlankDitë më parë


  • Meowth
    MeowthDitë më parë

    When you attached the rubik's cube to the thing, you thought it'll be less confusing. But it actually got worse.

  • Nile Stanton
    Nile StantonDitë më parë

    Great ad! I plan to buy it!

  • Alison Derrick
    Alison DerrickDitë më parë

    This is soooooooooo cool 😎 Iron man haha 😂 ! I love this so much! You nailed it!

  • Ammalyrical
    Ammalyrical2 ditë më parë

    So strange. I saw you rotating but the window still seems to be oscillating.

  • Amanda
    Amanda2 ditë më parë

    This is crazy. Cool though! Halfway through if I paid close attention I saw it for what it is but as soon as I took my eye off it it did the weird but common illusion!

  • steve ballinger
    steve ballinger2 ditë më parë

    Took me 30 minutes to figure out to see it rotating

  • Mahir Balushi
    Mahir Balushi2 ditë më parë


  • mokiloke
    mokiloke2 ditë më parë

    My brain hurts after watching this. It feels like it had to jump through all kinds of hoops.

  • Yoshimoshi Garage
    Yoshimoshi Garage2 ditë më parë

    You have officially broken my brain.

  • artistpw
    artistpw2 ditë më parë

    You should look at the McGurk effect on speech. We perceive what we think is reality, but it can be far from it.

  • Robert Allen Payne
    Robert Allen Payne2 ditë më parë

    Just curious if you could do an episode on the ethics of using a VPN to circumvent the terms of service of streaming services. Or maybe explore, from your point of view, how you would be impacted if you made educational videos available for free to sub-Saharan Africa by charging a modest fee for it here in the US, yet someone else encouraged folks to use a VPN service to consume that content by appearing to be from Africa. I know it isn't science per se, but it is philosophy, and you always give us a good dose of that as well.

  • E p
    E p2 ditë më parë

    At First i didn't saw it till he told my Brain how it's supposed to do.

  • James Brechtel
    James Brechtel2 ditë më parë

    The ruler actually makes it easy(ier) to see past the illusion. Visit the Termesphere art gallery near Spearfish, SD. The artist paints on globes as if looking out from the inside. Very cool.

  • Kyle
    Kyle2 ditë më parë

    Looks like oscillation to me.....and quite the Christmas ornament as well... cool.

  • GarbageDanks
    GarbageDanks2 ditë më parë

    If you focus on the top left corner of the window you can perceive the image actually turning instead of it appearing back and fourth.

  • Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.
    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.2 ditë më parë

    VE. 420??? You are a stoner? I didn't know

  • Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.
    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.2 ditë më parë

    Yeah bud . I don't care about any of this

  • Narmeen Yu ding dong
    Narmeen Yu ding dong2 ditë më parë

    Do you think that's how our brains would interpret 4 dimensional objects? Constant optical illusion

  • Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.
    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.2 ditë më parë

    Only some ppl can see... So who can't see it? I see the illusion. So wtf does that mean

  • Oscar Hornidge
    Oscar Hornidge2 ditë më parë

    My Eyes hurt! Hahaha

  • Mike Costello
    Mike Costello2 ditë më parë

    I stayed to the end!!! Oh the irony (Fe-ony) hahaha!

  • Ian Cuevas
    Ian Cuevas2 ditë më parë

    when you do see it (because the construction of the window is a bit wonky), you can no longer "unsee" the actual rotation - kinda spoils the fun for me a bit but you gotta love whoever thought this up! :)

  • hacker99
    hacker993 ditë më parë

    my brain is ded now yes 2021 E

  • Carl Goldsmith
    Carl Goldsmith3 ditë më parë

    I can see through the illusion.

  • TheProphetOfHate
    TheProphetOfHate3 ditë më parë

    Ha, I see the world from one eye... just try to manipulate my depth perception! The faces are actually a extremely easy case to determine depth, inpression has a receeding jawline due to the blocked off decline of the chin, so it easy easy to determine depth based on the position of the chin, aswell as the inverted shadows caused by light. Beating this illusion is no different, Looking through the illusion and focusing on what information can continue to be seen within/around it, how much of the background perception is blocked, abnormal interactions with light, and most importantly shifting "depth" of the object itself particularly when it reached a parallel position to the viewer losing all depth. As for the skull painting. I simply see a skewed but clearly skewed skull at all angles from the start, but I suppose 2 conflicting inputs from your eyes may result in a distorted blur to some... Akin to the 3d image's that require 2 crossing points of view aimed behind the image to see , which I simply can not at all. When your brain has been trained to utilize all this consistently reliable information RATHER than rely heavily on the use of the 2 (trained but still ultimately random) crossing points of view to gain a false estimated perception of depth which is technically an illusion itself, you can easily see through these illusions attempting to exploit said interaction. This is actually why humans have a superior depth perception with one eye closed, however in general practices the offset of pov will leave most people disoriented in normal activity. But when orienting a object which you can center at the eye, that is no longer a issue. This is why shooters are more accurate with one eye in most cases.

  • Bill King
    Bill King3 ditë më parë

    That’s fun to watch

  • Marco's World
    Marco's World3 ditë më parë

    I see both. If I look directly at the window it looks like it moves back and forth but if I look at just one end it looks like it rotates. I have an autistic brain so maybe that's why I can see both I don't know.

  • Ninja Baiano
    Ninja Baiano3 ditë më parë

    Cool i an some people.

  • Amerigoth
    Amerigoth3 ditë më parë

    this gives me such bad anxiety i can't watch

  • One by Land, Two if by Sea Run if by Air
    One by Land, Two if by Sea Run if by Air3 ditë më parë

    Neuroscience suggests something more startling: 👇👇👇 This processing happens *ABOVE* your level of consciousness. The brain *decides* what to show you. The actual images are correctly processed on the "Center-Surround" receptors of the retina. Logic tree of these receptors is as follows: (On/Off = Off/On = ON) (On/On= Off/Off= OFF). It's *after* this basic processing that the brain compares it's results to statistical likelihood of previous experiences. That's why children must develop the ability to do this, and aren't born with it: There is no statistical data to draw from. The brain makes many guesses when 2 equivalent possibilities exist. (The LGN is at play here also.) It's the ambiguity well *after* processing that gets resolved here. A super-conscious selection among choices. (We know this is the case, because "color" is a component of this particular illusion, and is processed very late in the system, at V4). All evidence points towards a *Super-Consciousness* making these decisions. For one: the electrical impulses of nerves have been measured, and found that decisions at the neuron level are made *before* your conscious mind is aware of them. (Voxel cell bundling, like 3D pixels, make decisions as groups). All of the basic shapes and orientations are processed in layers, starting with simple constructs and adding texture, hue, and color afterwards. (V1-V2-V3-V4, in the occipital lobe). It's only after the brain is faced with a statistical anomaly, that it compares the data to statistical history, and resolves the conflict. This mechanism is present in illusions of this type. With practice, the illusions can be chosen between. This is essentially your brain asking for statistical updates from your satisfaction with your experience (effectively a comment card). So the big news here isn't the illusion, it's that humans have a Super-Consciousness. (At least that's the part that has changed my understanding of "Reality". But don't worry, you get used to it... Sort of 🤔)

  • MatchstalkMan
    MatchstalkMan3 ditë më parë

    Be curious. Always ask questions. That way, when you encounter something different, you can draw on previous experiences and statements to formulate your own idea of what might be happening. Thank you for the video!

  • sandqwert
    sandqwert3 ditë më parë

    I've heard this will be patched in a future release

  • xSS4x
    xSS4x3 ditë më parë

    At first i saw the illusion but then realizing it was wrong i tried to make my brain work differently and eventually managed to see it rotating. Its just like that white/gold dress that was actually blue/black. If you practice a little you can get your brain to see either :P

  • Keith Klassen
    Keith Klassen3 ditë më parë

    I can only see the reality if I intensely focus on one single part of the illusion, while also constantly trying to see the rotation as I **know** it is happening. And even then it doesn't hold very well. Staring at the end that is rotating towards me helps, as does staring at the bottom where the paper connects to the rod holding it up.

  • Miles Prower
    Miles Prower3 ditë më parë

    I still see it only rotate

  • Miles Prower

    Miles Prower

    3 ditë më parë

    Watched the whole video and still rotating

  • Samus MDR
    Samus MDR3 ditë më parë

    i see the true rotation but there is a moment where the small side is tricking me forst like 300ms

  • Timmy's POV
    Timmy's POV3 ditë më parë

    I can see rotation on the "de Heer Circle" but the window illusion was actually making me angry I couldn't stop it from happening lol..

  • Md. Kaisul Islam
    Md. Kaisul Islam3 ditë më parë

    I am impressed.

  • Kyle Brumsworth
    Kyle Brumsworth3 ditë më parë

    This was beautiful

  • SosiCreatesArt
    SosiCreatesArt3 ditë më parë

    I only saw rotation on the first giant clip of him in it, after that I couldn’t get myself to not see the illusion 😭😭 even though I could get myself to see the rotation in both directions of that other commonly shared illusion of the girl’s shadow rotating with one leg up

  • rockero1313
    rockero13133 ditë më parë

    and 2.7K people still doesn't get it LOL

  • Madd Dogg
    Madd Dogg3 ditë më parë

    The most interesting thing is that we can't reprogram our mind to correctly perceive the illusion, despite our conscious mind knowing full well we're being fooled!

  • CJ M
    CJ M3 ditë më parë

    Disillusion works much better on a screen because you can't see the three-dimensional depth to it

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