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Inverted vision experiments

An early experiment in ‘perceptual plasticity’ was conducted by Psychologist George Stratton in1896. He used his inverted vision goggles, over a period of 8 days, and over time adapted to the point where he was able to function normally. When the glasses were removed, it took some time for him to adapt back to seeing the world as normal without them. See also

A lesser-known experiment over three days in 1899 used a set of mirrors to view his whole body as if tilted by 90 degrees. He describes interesting motor control anomalies and even an experience which he describes as an ‘out of body experience’. Currently, I am searching for more information and documentation on this experiment.

Strattons mirror experiment


Theodor Erismann

Theodor Erismann (1883-1961) and Ivo Kohler (1915-1985) later conducted experiments in the “disturbance of perception” in the 1950s. Again they conducted long duration experiments in the everyday environment of the participants, testing early ideas of ‘ecological validity’ in experiments.

“…the experiments examined the adaptation of perception when wearing reversal, prism and colour spectacles as well as half-prism and colour half-glasses. The subjects had to wear the glasses used depending on the experimental condition between 6 and 124 days.
From a methodological point of view, the studies were carried out under the everyday conditions of the subjects and thus not only the adaptation of perception but in particular that of sensorimotor coordination and control of human action could be examined. In doing so, they are an exemplary response to the demand for the ecological validity of experimental studies, which is often raised but rarely achieved. A first important publication is the work of Kohler “On the construction and changes of the world of perception, in particular on ‘conditioned sensations'” from the year 1951…”


“The world is upside down” e The Innsbruck Goggle Experiments of Theodor Erismann (1883e1961) and Ivo Kohler (1915e1985)


Artist, educator, and researcher working between the fields of science and art.