Psychologist claims study shows people can see in 3D with just one eye

October 15, 2013 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress weblog
Principle of binocular vision. Credit: Vlcekmi3/ Wikipedia.

(Medical Xpress)—Psychologist Dhanraj Vishwanath, working with Paul Hibbard, both at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has published a paper in the journal Psychological Science, claiming to be able to prove that people can see in 3D using just one eye. He says it can be done by viewing a picture through a piece of paper with a small hole cut in it.

The modern world has adopted the idea that in order for people to see three dimensional images—in real life and at the movies—two eyes are required. They brain reads the dual 2D imagery and converts it to 3D, or so it's believed. But now, Vishwanath says that conventional thinking isn't quite right. He notes that scientists and others have known for some time that viewing photographs through a small aperture provides some degree of 3D perception, but it's been ignored because the two-eyed version provides a much richer experience. He adds that in some circles it's not been taken seriously. In his paper he claims that he's found a way to prove that only one is needed for true 3D.

An inability to see in 3D is not limited to people with vision in just one eye, it also impacts those with misaligned sight—the two eyeballs focus on two different places—in order to compensate, imagery from the less dominant eye is generally ignored, except for the periphery. Prior research has suggested that up to 15 percent of people have some degree of strabismus (aka lazy eye), the medical term for the condition. Vishwanath claims that using simple technology could allow such people to not only experience 3D movies the same way as other people, but to experience 3D first hand in real life. He believes the experience would likely induce many with the condition to seek treatment to fix their vision problem. As for entertainment, Vishwanath suggests that once a certain degree of resolution is reached with flat screen TV's those who wish to do so, could see the special 3D effects Hollywood has added, simply by punching a small hole in a piece of cardboard and peering through it at the TV—with just one eye.

More information: Seeing in 3-D With Just One Eye: Stereopsis Without Binocular Vision, Dhanraj Vishwanath, Paul B. Hibbard, Published online before print July 26, 2013, DOI: 10.1177/0956797613477867

Humans can perceive depth when viewing with one eye, and even when viewing a two-dimensional picture of a three-dimensional scene. However, viewing a real scene with both eyes produces a more compelling three-dimensional experience of immersive space and tangible solid objects. A widely held belief is that this qualitative visual phenomenon (stereopsis) is a by-product of binocular vision. In the research reported here, we empirically established, for the first time, the qualitative characteristics associated with stereopsis to show that they can occur for static two-dimensional pictures without binocular vision. Critically, we show that stereopsis is a measurable qualitative attribute and that its induction while viewing pictures is not consistent with standard explanations based on depth-cue conflict or the perception of greater depth magnitude. These results challenge the conventional understanding of the underlying cause, variation, and functional role of stereopsis.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2013
This is not as unexpected as it may seem. Each eye has its own left-side and right-side neuro-visual components. The left-side image components from each eye are merged at the optic nerve to create a composite left-side component view in the visual cortex. The right-side image components are similarly merged to create a composite right-side image. In effect, we have four "cameras" at work- two left-side cameras and two right-side cameras, with each eye possessing the ability to independently distinguish left and right-side information.
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 15, 2013
A little head movement adds a lot of 3D information to the brain.
5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2013
the way the eye's lens focuses on near and far objects also provides information to the brain about distance.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 16, 2013
This is amazingly naive. Three dimensions on two dimensional planes has been known for hundreds of years eg the necker cube example.

Motion-in-depth as a source of 3D information was proved some 50 years ago (requires only one eye, it is why one eyed pilots are not banned from flying commercial passenger planes).

The slam dunk is the fact that there is insufficient parallax error beyond around two meters for the brain to deduce 3D from two eyes and so the vast majority of the 3D world we know is deduced by means other than the parallax error between two eyes.

Everyone who has seen 3D movies will not how unreal or 'hyper-real' the the 3D effect is. That is because it uses a form of deducing 3D that we can not use in real life (parallax error for distant objects).
1 / 5 (1) Oct 17, 2013
I'm not a wiz or well educated on the subject of dimensions, but don't humans see in 2+1d? Isn't it depth perception? Or don't we perceive depth and not actually see it? Because I swear that when I look at a box I cannot see what's inside of it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.