Experiment in seeing the world upside down


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Technically, the goggles used in this experiment make you see the world the right way up. We normally see it upside down, because that’s the way the eye works.


˙ɟlǝsʎɯ ʇᴉ op oʇ ǝʌɐɥ I ssǝnƃ I ʇnq 'sᴉɥʇ ǝʞᴉl ƃuᴉɥʇǝɯos ǝǝs oʇ ƃuᴉʇɔǝdxǝ ǝɹǝɥ uᴉ ǝɯɐɔ I


I read somewhere that if you make people see the world as a photographic negative the brain never adjusts to that.

This experiment was also reproduced in a BBC (Horizon?) documentary in the 1980s. Anyone know what it was called? I’d love to see this again.

My understanding is that by donning the glasses until your vision flips, then taking them off until it flips back, etc, you can eventually attain a state where your vision flips instantly, and from there, with some introspection, figure out how to flip it any time you want consciously.


Whenever I read about this, I am most curious about what things might be like during the transition state. Is there some extremely uncomfortable stage when things are neither right-side-up nor upside-down?

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It’s really quite amazing how many important scientific discoveries have come from casual hazing of one’s students.

“Hey, Kohler, wear these crazy glasses. Because I said so, that’s why! Ha ha, now your vision is all fucked up. God, I love my job.”


I’m surprised nobody posted it…

We don’t see the world at all, we interact with a virtual reality based on sensory input. The way the light happens to be projected on our sensors only matters if you’re imagining a little homunculus watching everything on a movie screen in there.


A lot of people have tried to replicate Kohler’s experience, without success:

People report learning to compensate for an inverted world, but the experience remains the same – the world continues to remains upside down. No sudden flip.

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most of the bbc horizon series probably has unofficially made its way onto youtube, but I’m too preoccupied to look for whole episodes.

I remember some stuff at uni about this sort of thing related to using stereo cameras for remote vision. Making the cameras further apart than eyes, or rotated slightly. The brain works in out eventually. It takes just as long to get re-used to normal vision afterwards.

That’s certainly the one I was thinking of, thanks.

Incidentally, it seems there were earlier experiments than Erismann’s- George M. Stratton wore inverting glasses for eight days in the 1890s.

Sǝǝɯs ʇɥǝɹǝ uo ʍɐʎ ʇo ɹǝɐllʎ po ʇɥᴉs dɹodǝɹlʎ˙

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