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


  1. Ashutosh Kumar

    Ashutosh Kumar

    42 мүнөт мурун

    no no no no no no no no no no no

  2. Cyrus


    Саат мурун

    see it both ways

  3. Luis Ortiz

    Luis Ortiz

    2 саат мурун

    Can you put a black hole in the middle

  4. NoriMori


    2 саат мурун

    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.)

  5. NoriMori


    2 саат мурун

    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.

  6. Zaanisnotcool Yt

    Zaanisnotcool Yt

    2 саат мурун

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

  7. Frozen Concrete

    Frozen Concrete

    3 саат мурун

    3:28 ruller is in 4th dimensions

  8. Diego Prado

    Diego Prado

    3 саат мурун

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

  9. Chemstree's Creations

    Chemstree's Creations

    6 саат мурун

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

  10. Stephen Stratford

    Stephen Stratford

    7 саат мурун


  11. 5G Family

    5G Family

    7 саат мурун

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

  12. llamalambo


    8 саат мурун

    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

  13. Markus Kida

    Markus Kida

    8 саат мурун

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

  14. Smy


    10 саат мурун

    Irl glitches

  15. Pradelnicek


    10 саат мурун

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

  16. Bully_Hunter_420


    12 саат мурун

    That thing is non-euclidean

  17. Dahak


    16 саат мурун

    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!

  18. Nick Nomski

    Nick Nomski

    17 саат мурун

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

  19. Nick Nomski

    Nick Nomski

    17 саат мурун

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

  20. Nick Nomski

    Nick Nomski

    17 саат мурун

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

  21. Nick Nomski

    Nick Nomski

    17 саат мурун

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

  22. Tim T

    Tim T

    21 саат мурун

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

  23. Indeterminite


    21 саат мурун

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

  24. Pickle Supply Company Yep!

    Pickle Supply Company Yep!

    22 саат мурун

    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.

  25. daniel kinney

    daniel kinney

    22 саат мурун

    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

  26. Ragna Eyjadóttir

    Ragna Eyjadóttir

    23 саат мурун

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

  27. marc unbut

    marc unbut

    Күн мурун

    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.

  28. joeviking61


    Күн мурун

    Forced Perspective...

  29. Whank McSockpuppet

    Whank McSockpuppet

    Күн мурун

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

  30. Mark Jackson

    Mark Jackson

    Күн мурун

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

  31. Anas Abbas Ali

    Anas Abbas Ali

    Күн мурун

    Thanks for the headache and nausea

  32. Anamika tyagi

    Anamika tyagi

    Күн мурун

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

  33. ImNotRice


    Күн мурун

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

  34. Joseph Graves

    Joseph Graves

    Күн мурун

    I saw it! I actually saw it!!!

  35. Ria Ed

    Ria Ed

    Күн мурун

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

  36. TheRolemodel1337


    Күн мурун

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

  37. Paul Lindsay

    Paul Lindsay

    Күн мурун

    Exce11ent work!

  38. Jeff Bruce

    Jeff Bruce

    Күн мурун

    I am way too high for this...😂😂😂

  39. Gurdev Singh

    Gurdev Singh

    Күн мурун

    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

  40. Arvensis Andromeda

    Arvensis Andromeda

    Күн мурун

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

  41. Woody Plank

    Woody Plank

    Күн мурун


  42. Meowth


    Күн мурун

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

  43. Nile Stanton

    Nile Stanton

    Күн мурун

    Great ad! I plan to buy it!

  44. Alison Derrick

    Alison Derrick

    Күн мурун

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

  45. Ammalyrical


    Күн мурун

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

  46. Amanda


    Күн мурун

    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!

  47. steve ballinger

    steve ballinger

    Күн мурун

    Took me 30 minutes to figure out to see it rotating

  48. Mahir Balushi

    Mahir Balushi

    Күн мурун


  49. mokiloke


    Күн мурун

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

  50. Yoshimoshi Garage

    Yoshimoshi Garage

    Күн мурун

    You have officially broken my brain.

  51. artistpw


    Күн мурун

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

  52. Robert Allen Payne

    Robert Allen Payne

    Күн мурун

    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.

  53. E p

    E p

    Күн мурун

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

  54. James Brechtel

    James Brechtel

    2 күн мурун

    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.

  55. Kyle


    2 күн мурун

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

  56. GarbageDanks


    2 күн мурун

    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.

  57. Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    2 күн мурун

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

  58. Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    2 күн мурун

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

  59. Narmeen Yu ding dong

    Narmeen Yu ding dong

    2 күн мурун

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

  60. Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    Sir Dr. Michael Mills, Phd. Esq.

    2 күн мурун

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

  61. Oscar Hornidge

    Oscar Hornidge

    2 күн мурун

    My Eyes hurt! Hahaha

  62. Mike Costello

    Mike Costello

    2 күн мурун

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

  63. Ian Cuevas

    Ian Cuevas

    2 күн мурун

    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! :)

  64. hacker99


    2 күн мурун

    my brain is ded now yes 2021 E

  65. Carl Goldsmith

    Carl Goldsmith

    2 күн мурун

    I can see through the illusion.

  66. TheProphetOfHate


    2 күн мурун

    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.

  67. Bill King

    Bill King

    2 күн мурун

    That’s fun to watch

  68. Marco's World

    Marco's World

    2 күн мурун

    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.

  69. Ninja Baiano

    Ninja Baiano

    2 күн мурун

    Cool i an some people.

  70. Amerigoth


    2 күн мурун

    this gives me such bad anxiety i can't watch

  71. One by Land, Two if by Sea Run if by Air

    One by Land, Two if by Sea Run if by Air

    2 күн мурун

    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 🤔)

  72. MatchstalkMan


    2 күн мурун

    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!

  73. sandqwert


    2 күн мурун

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

  74. xSS4x


    2 күн мурун

    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

  75. Keith Klassen

    Keith Klassen

    2 күн мурун

    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.

  76. Miles Prower

    Miles Prower

    2 күн мурун

    I still see it only rotate

    • Miles Prower

      Miles Prower

      2 күн мурун

      Watched the whole video and still rotating

  77. Samus MDR

    Samus MDR

    3 күн мурун

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

  78. Timmy's POV

    Timmy's POV

    3 күн мурун

    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..

  79. Md. Kaisul Islam

    Md. Kaisul Islam

    3 күн мурун

    I am impressed.

  80. Kyle Brumsworth

    Kyle Brumsworth

    3 күн мурун

    This was beautiful

  81. SosiCreatesArt


    3 күн мурун

    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

  82. rockero1313


    3 күн мурун

    and 2.7K people still doesn't get it LOL

  83. Madd Dogg

    Madd Dogg

    3 күн мурун

    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!

  84. CJ M

    CJ M

    3 күн мурун

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

  85. Words


    3 күн мурун

    i can see it, anybody else? I mean i can see it as an illusion but at the same time, i can see it is not. its like 2 men thinking in the brain that an illusion meant to be an illusion but it's not

  86. Suzette Perkins

    Suzette Perkins

    3 күн мурун


  87. crazysquriel


    3 күн мурун

    Absolutely loved your outro before the sponsor.

  88. Swarnim Yamdagni

    Swarnim Yamdagni

    3 күн мурун

    Trick to bypassing the illusion is to not focus on the surface but just the shape. Doing this will create a trippy scene where the shape is rotating but the surface is oscillating.

  89. Doomsayer34


    3 күн мурун

    My brain hurts

  90. Simply Me

    Simply Me

    3 күн мурун

    At 2:38, you had my curiosity, now you have my attention

  91. GRD


    3 күн мурун

    i can switch between seeing the illusion and not, dose that mean i have a high iq?

  92. Ipso Facto

    Ipso Facto

    3 күн мурун

    I relay didn't like it when you made me laugh with your pun. Please explain why? 😁

  93. Nikto


    3 күн мурун

    This video unrectangularizes my brains.

  94. Simone Gabellini

    Simone Gabellini

    3 күн мурун

    "I turned myself into an optical illusion, Morty! I'm optical illusion Derek!"



    3 күн мурун

    Ok wow... I dont know how i can easily precieve whats happening here. Let me help you... Try imagining the blue colour anf a drawing on a card. Do not precieve it as a 3d shape.



    3 күн мурун

    Ok wow... I dont know how i can easily precieve whats happening hete.

  97. pancake claper

    pancake claper

    3 күн мурун

    During the video I thought to my brain "hey I don't think that's right"

  98. Pola & Tiger

    Pola & Tiger

    3 күн мурун

    So is his shirt element a joke, wrong by numbers or something?

  99. Anjali Krishna

    Anjali Krishna

    3 күн мурун

    God!! I know the fact that the cube is oscillating but I could still see them rotating. It's magical but annoying 😵😵

  100. Idiot. Exe

    Idiot. Exe

    3 күн мурун

    Once I saw it the right way I couldn’t un-see it