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Why this simple finger trick forces your foot to change direction

Why this simple finger trick forces your foot to change direction

This foot and finger trick is mind-blowing.

Our bodies are so amazing and weird. The fact that human beings have gone from banging rocks together to creating the most intricately detailed works of art is a testament to what our bodies can do. Just think about the kinds of physical feats we (well, some of us, anyway) have mastered, from brain surgery to playing musical instruments to Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics.

Humans are marvels. Through coordination and balance and muscle training and practice, there are so many incredible things our bodies can do.

But honest to goodness, I cannot make my foot not change direction while doing this stupid physical trick.

It goes like this:

Sitting in a chair, lift your right foot off the ground a few inches and rotate your foot to the right (clockwise), making a circle in the air. While making that circle, use your right finger and draw the number "6" in the air.


I tried this a dozen times. A full 12 in a row. And every single time, no matter how hard I would concentrate, my foot would change direction as soon as I started to draw the "6." I tried it fast. I tried it slow. I tried concentrating only on my foot or only on the "6." It didn't matter. My finger influenced what my foot was doing no matter what.

It's not a new trick, but it was new to me and to the people who responded to a tweet sharing the trick with various iterations of "What is this sorcery?!?"

If you are one of those people who were able to do it without any problem, congrats. You have some kind of superhuman coordination.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. My teen and young adult children were somehow able to keep their foot going clockwise. One of them is a musician and one is left-handed, so maybe that's why? Drummers and ballet dancers in the comments said they didn't have any problem with it.

As it turns out, there is a scientific explanation for why it's pretty much impossible for most of us.

The Curious Crew folks at Michigan State University explain why it works:

"The cerebellum part of the brain manages body movements, like the circling of the foot or the drawing of the number 6. However, the nerve fibers from the right side of the body cross the brain stem and connect with the left side of the brain, just as the fibers on the left side of the body connect with the right side of the brain. When you try to draw the number 6 with your right hand, those signals are coming from the left side of the brain. Even though circling your foot is easy to do in either direction, you cannot rotate your foot in the opposite motion of the drawn six at the same moment. The left side of the brain cannot manage two opposite movements in the same moment, so the brain combines the movement to a similar motion. When you switch to the left foot, there is no problem because the right side of the brain controls your foot movement, while the left side can focus on drawing the number 6."

So there you have it. The old brain controlling the two sides of your body thing. Clearly, there must be a way to train yourself to not have your foot wig out when making the "6" in the air, so pardon me while I spend the next six hours trying to make my body do my bidding.

All images provided by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Collins after being selected by Prudential Emerging Visionaries

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A changemaker is anyone who takes creative action to solve an ongoing problem—be it in one’s own community or throughout the world.

And when it comes to creating positive change, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective can hold just as much power as years of experience. That’s why, every year, Prudential Emerging Visionaries celebrates young people for their innovative solutions to financial and societal challenges in their communities.

This national program awards 25 young leaders (ages 14-18) up to $15,000 to devote to their passion projects. Additionally, winners receive a trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, where they receive coaching, skills development, and networking opportunities with mentors to help take their innovative solutions to the next level.

For 18-year-old Sydnie Collins, one of the 2023 winners, this meant being able to take her podcast, “Perfect Timing,” to the next level.

Since 2020, the Maryland-based teen has provided a safe platform that promotes youth positivity by giving young people the space to celebrate their achievements and combat mental health stigmas. The idea came during the height of Covid-19, when Collins recalled social media “becoming a dark space flooded with news,” which greatly affected her own anxiety and depression.

Knowing that she couldn’t be the only one feeling this way, “Perfect Timing” seemed like a valuable way to give back to her community. Over the course of 109 episodes, Collins has interviewed a wide range of guests—from other young influencers to celebrities, from innovators to nonprofit leaders—all to remind Gen Z that “their dreams are tangible.”

That mission statement has since evolved beyond creating inspiring content and has expanded to hosting events and speaking publicly at summits and workshops. One of Collins’ favorite moments so far has been raising $7,000 to take 200 underserved girls to see “The Little Mermaid” on its opening weekend, to “let them know they are enough” and that there’s an “older sister” in their corner.

Of course, as with most new projects, funding for “Perfect Timing” has come entirely out of Collins’ pocket. Thankfully, the funding she earned from being selected as a Prudential Emerging Visionary is going toward upgraded recording equipment, the support of expert producers, and skill-building classes to help her become a better host and public speaker. She’ll even be able to lease an office space that allows for a live audience.

Plus, after meeting with the 24 other Prudential Emerging Visionaries and her Prudential employee coach, who is helping her develop specific action steps to connect with her target audience, Collins has more confidence in a “grander path” for her work.

“I learned that my network could extend to multiple spaces beyond my realm of podcasting and journalism when industry leaders are willing to share their expertise, time, and financial support,” she told Upworthy. “It only takes one person to change, and two people to expand that change.”

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is currently seeking applicants for 2024. Winners may receive up to $15,000 in awards and an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters with a parent or guardian, as well as ongoing coaching and skills development to grow their projects.

If you or someone you know between the ages of 14 -18 not only displays a bold vision for the future but is taking action to bring that vision to life, click here to learn more. Applications are due by Nov. 2, 2023.
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