Chapter 3 - Vision:
At this point it appears advantageous to set down the principal modes by which we perceive the third dimension of space and of objects and other aspects of the external world. They are as follows: (1) extent; (2) clearness of brightness and color as affected by distance; (3) interference of near objects with those more distant; (4) elevation of objects; (5) variation of light and shade on objects; (6) cast shadows; (7) perspective; (8) variation of the visor angle in proportion to distance; (9) muscular effort attending accommodation of the eye; (10) stereoscopic vision; (11) muscular effort attending convergence of the axes of the eyes. It will be recognized that only the last two are necessarily concerned with binocular vision. These varieties of experiences may be combined in almost an infinite variety of proportions.
Wundt in his attempt to explain visual perception considered chiefly three factors: (1) the retinal image of the eye at rest; (2) the influence of the movements of one eye; and, (3) the additional data furnished by the two eyes functioning together. There are three fields of vision corresponding to the foregoing. These are the retinal field of vision, the monocular field, and the binocular field. The retinal field of vision is that of an eye at rest as compared with the monocular field, which is all that can be seen with one eye in its entire range of movement and therefore of experience. The retinal field has no clearly defined boundaries because it finally fades at its indefinite periphery into a region where sensation ceases.
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It might be tiresome to follow detailed analyses of the many modes by which visual perception is attained, so only a few generalizations will be presented. For every voluntary act of sight there are two adjustments of the eyes, namely, focal and axial. In the former case the ciliary muscle adjusts the lens in order to produce a defined image upon the retina. In axial adjustments the two eyes are turned by certain muscles so that their axes meet on the object looked at and the images of the object fall on the central-spots of the retina. These take place together without distinct volition for each but by the single voluntary act of looking. Through experience the intellect has acquired a wonderful capacity to interpret such factors as size, form, and distance in terms of the muscular movements in general without the observer being conscious of such interpretations.
Binocular vision is easily recognized by holding a finger before the eyes and looking at a point beyond it. The result is two apparently transparent fingers. An object is seen single when the two retinal images fall on corresponding points. Direction is a primary datum of sense. The property of corresponding points of the two retinas (binocular vision) and consequently of identical spatial points in the two visual fields is not so simple. It is still a question whether corresponding points (that is, the existence of a corresponding point in one retina for each point in the other retina) are innate, instinctive, and are antecedent of experience or are "paired" as the result of experience. The one view results in the nativistic, the other in the empiristic theory. Inasmuch as some scientists are arrayed on one side and some on the other, it appears futile to dwell further upon this aspect. It must suffice to state that binocular vision, which consists of two retinas and consequently two fields of view absolutely coordinated in some manner in the brain, yields extensive information concerning space and its contents.
After noting after-images, motes floating in the field of view (caused by defects in the eye-media) and various other things, it is evident that what we call the field of view is the external projection into space of retinal states. All the variations of the latter, such as images and shadows which are produced in the external field of one eye, are faithfully reproduced in the external field of the other eye. This sense of an external visual field is ineradicable. Even when the eyes are closed the external field is still there; the imagination or intellect projects it outward. Objects at different distances cannot be seen distinctly at the same time but by interpreting the eye-movements as the point of sight is run backward and forward (varying convergence of the axes) our intellect almost automatically appraises the size, distance, and form of all of the objects. Obviously, experience is a prominent factor. The perception of the third dimension, depth or relative distance, whether in a single object or a group of objects, is the result of the successive combination of the different parts of two dissimilar images of the object or group.
Chapter 3 - Vision:
The Visual Process
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Chapter 3 - Vision:|
Distance and Size Perception Affect Optical Illusions
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