Will Hall

Miyazaki International College

Media artist doing fun stuff with perception. Art and EFL instructor. PhD from Kyoto City University of Arts.


Hacking our vision: binocular rivalry and language learning

Zoom D

Can an innate quirk of vision help study foreign languages? Binocular rivalry (BR) is a visual phenomenon that occurs when our two eyes simultaneously look at very different things, causing our conscious perception to alternate between the two (Blake and Logothetis, 2002). BR research shows that (1) the frequency of the perceptual alternation can be controlled by several factors and (2) both dominant and suppressed stimuli are perceived at a level of consciousness sufficient to influence decisions, suggesting that BR can be used to access and alter perception. In this study of 26 participants, English and Japanese texts were shown simultaneously to each eye, creating a bistable perceptual experience with one text dominating temporarily over the other. Stimulus strengths of the texts were adjusted via motion to test the possibility of externally controlling the language that dominates participants’ awareness. Results showed a positive correlation between stimulus strength and dominance of awareness. This suggests that language learners could view two different language texts simultaneously, while dynamically controlling which one dominates their conscious perception. With the ever-deepening understanding of the BR mechanism and advancing technology that can be used to produce the experience (such as affordable head-mounted displays (HMDs)), these findings suggest that BR is an area of research of increasing potential in foreign language study. Possible applications of BR such as HMD assisted text glossing and vocabulary flashcards are suggested as enhanced versions of the red/ green plastic anki sheet memorisation tools that remain popular in Japan today. 3D Glasses Required! This presentation is best viewed while wearing blue and red 3D (anaglyph) glasses. If you have access to a pair, then please have them ready. I am happy to post glasses to people who request them (within reasonable limits). Please email me ASAP with your mailing address and the number of glasses required (up to 4 per request). whall@sky.miyazaki-mic.ac.jp