We can see the world differently, left and right, but still accurately?

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Offline GoingCrazy

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I was just thinking, if me and you could see the world differently in left and right.  Like living with a mirror in front of you, reflecting everything across the y axis.  You can still perfectly function in this world.  Like driving down the highway, the right side is actually somebody's left, but it would actually be considered right to them so it is their right, even though in their perspective to us it would be their left.  It's a bit confusing.  Like reading a book, we are taught to read from left to right.  But consider this reversed.  For the "reversed person" to us it would be like reading from right to left, but to a person with reversed y-axis vision, it would be the correct way to read.  You can still perfectly function like anybody else in this world.  I think it would be possible for many people to see the world differently.  I just can't think of an example where somebody born like that could not function.  I still don't know if I'm making myself clear because I am kind of confusing myself.  A person with my brain would have my right being the actual right >.  Say I switched brains with a person with a reverse perspective, so his right would be <, and if he pointed that way to us it would look like the correct way to point because to us he would be pointing the right way.  Maybe I should elaborate more, I don't know.  Still a bit confused. [???]


Offline CliffordK

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I think I know what you're saying. 

When you look in a telescope, for example, it can be difficult to adjust it if the image is reversed. 

It would be easy enough to make a pair of glasses that would reverse & possibly flip the image.  It would be interesting to see how long it would take an adult to habituate to such an image, although I would imagine that it would never be complete.

As far as an infant or a child, there is something called "plasticity" in which the young brain is able to permanently adapt to such a change by generating the appropriate "wiring". 

It may be somewhat difficult to learn because of the innate wiring of the brain in which the right brain receives the left visual field from both eyes, and the left brain receives the right visual field from both eyes.  The cross over also deals with muscles, so the left side controls the right leg and arm, a the right side controls the left leg and arm.

Do you wear glasses?
I have a mild astigmatism.  When I first got glasses (and sometimes when I get an updated prescription), the visual field will feel a bit blurry for a day or so.  However, one quickly habituates, and can see with or without the glasses, and the blurriness does not return.

While human infants seem to learn about their vision and the movement of their extremities, many other animals can immediately jump up and walk, and see where they're going.  For example, within a half hour, a calf can stand up, walk to the back of its mother, and find a nipple, so one would have to interpret that there is an innate visual perception. 

It wouldn't be ethical to fit an infant with such reversed glasses, unless there was another reason such as some kind of brain injury which might have improved symptoms if perhaps half the visual field was reversed (one eye?).

A monkey study, or perhaps other mammals would be interesting, although I'm not quite sure what one would expect to demonstrate. 

I'm still trying to think of an application. 
Perhaps if you had left-sided brain damage causing right-sided neglect. 
One might be able to flip the visual field in one eye to allow both the right and left visual fields to be processed by the same good hemisphere. 

It would certainly be a very complex task, and I doubt an adult brain could adapt, but an infant brain might be able to adapt.

Anyway, it would seem to be the most interesting thing if the visual fields in a single eye were reversed, and perhaps using a blindfold, forcing the subject to learn to use both eyes. 

As far as philosophy,
Do some peoples right field project to the right brain, and others project to the left brain?  I think the answer is no.  It would certainly be easy to demonstrate with a FMRI, PET, or even EEG study.



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GoingCrazy and Clifford:

The experiments for your questions were done in the late 1950's and 1960's. This was a big issue during my undergraduate and graduate education. I think much of the research used college students as subjects, long after the critical visual developmental period has completed. What I recall is that inversion, mirror image, and displacement glasses were used. The subjects experienced a period of disorientation but adapted within around 3-7 days such that they had no problems at all. Interestingly, at the end of the experiment when the glasses were removed there was a similar period of adaptation back to the normal condition. A quick search found the following 1965 article that should give some flavor of the research and would have references to other studies. I don't know if Harris' hypothesis suggesting that adaptation was primarily a motor function panned out-


Another aspect of this fascinating research were experiments done with other creatures. For example, chickens like to peck grain from the ground. Chicks appear to be able to do this practically from hatching, but research into the development of this ability found something different. First of all, pecking behavior is easy to study because you can present chicks, or full grown chickens, with squares of soft clay with seeds embedded in it. The accuracy of pecks is recorded in the clay.

Studying chicks normal development of pecking behavior, and behavior with displacing lenses, found that chick pecking accuracy is only approximate very early, and they seem to learn accuracy as they get older. The displacement lens experiment found a critical period, during which normal accuracy was tuned, that they could adjust to the displacement and peck accurately. After this critical period, when the lenses were removed, they could not relearn to peck and thereafter pecked to one side of a seed.

« Last Edit: 02/01/2011 18:58:21 by SteveFish »


Offline GoingCrazy

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Thanks a lot for the answers, it seems like people could function being born like that.