Psychological Research

, Volume 47, Issue 3, pp 125–133 | Cite as

The stereoscopic views of Wheatstone and Brewster

  • N. J. Wade
  • H. Ono


The study of stereopsis, made possible by the invention of the stereoscope, freed binocular vision from the yoke of monocular phenomena. Wheatstone used this freedom to determine the factors involved in the perception of size and distance, and interpreted them within a cognitive framework. He devised an adjustable stereoscope which allowed him to apply the systematic experimental procedures of physics to the phenomena of depth perception. Brewster, by contrast, tried to force the newly discovered binocular phenomena back into the mould of monocular vision, using the lever of visible direction. His interpretations of visual phenomena, be they monocular or binocular, could be reduced to the two fundamental ‘laws’ of visible direction and distinct vision. While Wheatstone's cognitive approach influenced Helmholtz, and thereby modern cognitive theorists. Brewster's interpretations, based as they were in analyses of the retinal projection, find an echo in modern direct theorists.


Cognitive Theorist Visible Direction Depth Perception Binocular Vision Cognitive Approach 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Wade
    • 1
  • H. Ono
    • 2
  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeScotland DD1 4HN, UK
  2. 2.York UniversityNorth YorkCanada

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