April 17, 2013, by Yvonne Teoh

Oh-So-Fun Prism Goggles Experiment

Ever wondered what it would be like to have your vision shifted horizontally – say by 30° to 40°?


Well if you have, you could have experienced this by participating in our experiment! Under the watchful eye of Dr. Kirsten McKenzie, a bunch of us – Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience students – conducted experiments using the insanely fun prism goggles, whilst simultaneously conducting ‘ground breaking research’ like the utmost professionals we are. You could just imagine the excitement in class on the first day of being introduced to this research; people bumping into chairs, walls, and doors, and generally stumbling around like a bunch of fools. Two ingenious individuals also found out how to use the prism goggles to change a high-five into a slap-your-friend-in-the-face.

But alas, all this excitement also came with a small price – running our experiment on willing participants. Considering how Zakira and I had participants walking up and down the hallway of the psychology department, you could probably guess how we attracted some attention. Hence, here we are explaining our fun experiment.

Basically, all we did was, we walked participants up and down the hallway for 10 minutes while wearing the prism goggles. This was done twice, once just a regular walk (or as regular as a walk with horizontally shifted vision can be), and another condition involved walking up and down the same path while solving maths questions. Then, we tested their adaptation to the goggles by getting them to complete a line-bisection task – we presented participants with a series of horizontal lines, and asked them to put a slash down the middle of the line.

I will admit that the results we find will be interesting, but I am quite certain that the most entertaining part was the participants – and those watching them – putting on the goggles, and walking down a hallway looking like a baby taking his/her first steps. We even had a participant appreciate the ‘normal’ gift of sight that she was used to – she felt that walking with the prism goggles were zombie-like in nature. I will admit that we did have some participants that had no trouble walking with the prism goggles on, they just strutted their stuff down the hallway like it was no big deal.

Our lovely participant gazing into the camera (so she perceives) - but as we can clearly see, she is not looking straight into the camera

Our lovely participant gazing into the camera (so she perceives) – but as we can clearly see, she is not looking straight into the camera

Shumetha Kaur & Zakira Khiard
(Year 2 Students in BSc (Hons.) Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, UNMC)

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