Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 757 pages of information about Harvard Psychological Studies, Volume 1.
(according to the neural dispositions), and probably do not for the time being receive communications therefrom, since those other parts are now less strongly excited.  It is, therefore, most probable that during the incoming of the eye-muscle sensations the centers for color are in fact not able to discharge through their usual channels toward the localization-centers, since the tension in that direction is too high.  If, now, their other channels of discharge are too few or too little used to come into question, the action-theory would find in this a simple explanation of the visual anaesthesia.

The fact that the anaesthesia commences appreciably later than the movement so far favors this interpretation.  For if the anaesthesia is conditioned by high tension in the localization-centers, due to incoming sensations from the eye-muscles, it could not possibly commence synchronously with the movement.  For, first the sensory end-organs in the eye-muscles (or perhaps in the ligaments, surfaces of the eye-sockets, etc.) have their latent period; then the stimulation has to travel to the brain; and lastly it probably has to initiate there a summation-process equivalent to another latent period.  These three processes would account very readily for what we may call the latent period of the anaesthesia, as observed in the experiments.  It is true that this latent period was observed only in long eye-and head-movements, but the experiments were not delicate enough in this particular to bring out the finer points.

Finally, the conditioning of anaesthesia by movements of the head, if really proved, would rather corroborate this interpretation.  For of course the position of the head on the shoulders is as important for localization of the retinal picture as the position of the eyes in the head, so that sensations of head-movements must be equally represented in the localization centers; and head movements would equally raise the tension on those centers against discharge-currents from the color-centers.

The conclusion from the foregoing experiments is that voluntary movements of the eyes condition a momentary, visual, central anaesthesia.

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Many profound researches have been published upon the subject of optical illusions, but in the field of tactual illusions no equally extensive and serious work has been accomplished.  The reason for this apparent neglect of the illusions of touch is obviously the fact that the studies in the optical illusions are generally thought to yield more important results for psychology than corresponding studies in the field of touch.  Then, too, the optical studies are more attractive by reason of the comparative ease and certainty with which the statistics are gathered there. 

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