Imágenes de páginas

cal effect of incoming currents does depend on what other currents may be simultaneously pouring in. Not only the perceptibility of the object which the current brings before the mind, but the quality of it, is changed by the other currents. "Simultaneous* sensations modify each other" is a brief expression for this law. "We feel all things in relation to each other" is Wundt's vaguer formula for this general law of relativity,' which in one shape or other has had vogue since Hobbes's time in psychology. Much mystery has been made of it, but although we are of course ignorant of the more intimate processes involved, there seems no ground to doubt that they are physiological, and come from the interference of one current with another. A current interfered with might naturally give rise to a modified sensation.

Examples of the modification in question are easy to find. Notes make each other sweeter in a chord, and so do colors when harmoniously combined. A certain amount of skin dipped in hot water gives the perception of a certain heat. More skin immersed makes the heat much more intense, although of course the water's heat is the same. Similarly there is a chromatic minimum of size in objects. The image they cast on the retina must needs excite a sufficient number of fibres, or it will give no sensation of color at all. Weber observed that a thaler laid on the skin of the forehead feels heavier when cold than when warm. Urbantschitsch has found that all our sense-organs influence each other's sensations. The hue of patches of color so distant as not to be recognized was immediately, in his patients, perceived when a tuning-fork was sounded close to the ear. Letters too far off to be read could be read

* Successive ones also; but I consider simultaneous ones only, for simplicity's sake.

The extreme case is where green light and red, e.g. light falling simultaneously on the retina, give a sensation of yellow. But I abstract from this because it is not certain that he incoming currents here affect different fibres of the optic nerve.

when the tuning-fork was heard, etc., etc. The most familiar examples of this sort of thing seem to be the increase of pain by noise or light, and the increase of nausea by all concomitant sensations.

Effects of Contrast.-The best-known examples of the way in which one nerve-current modifies another are the phenomena of what is known as 'simultaneous color-contrast.' Take a number of sheets of brightly and differently colored papers, lay on each of them a bit of one and the same kind of gray paper, then cover each sheet with some transparent white paper, which softens the look of both the gray paper and the colored ground. The gray patch will appear in each case tinged by the color complementary to the ground; and so different will the several pieces appear that no observer, before raising the transparent paper, will believe them all cut out of the same gray. Helmholtz has interpreted these results as being due to a false application of an inveterate habit-that, namely, of making allowance for the color of the medium through which things are seen. The same thing, in the blue light of a clear sky, in the reddish-yellow light of a candle, in the dark brown light of a polished mahogany table which may reflect its image, is always judged of its own proper color, which the mind adds out of its own knowledge to the appearance, thereby correcting the falsifying medium. In the cases of the papers, according to Helmholtz, the mind believes the color of the ground, subdued by the transparent paper, to be faintly spread over the gray patch. But a patch to look gray through such a colored film would have really to be of the complementary color to the film. Therefore it is of the complementary color, we think, and proceed to see it of that color.

This theory has been shown to be untenable by Hering. The discussion of the facts is too minute for recapitulation here, but suffice it to say that it proves the phenomenon to be physiological—a case of the way in which, when sensory nerve-currents run in together, the effect of each on

consciousness is different from that which it would be if

they ran in separately.

'Successive contrast' differs from the simultaneous variety, and is supposed to be due to fatigue. The facts will be noticed under the head of 'after-images,' in the section on Vision. It must be borne in mind, however, that after-images from previous sensations may coexist with present sensations, and the two may modify each other just as coexisting sensational processes do.

Other senses than sight show phenomena of contrast, but they are much less obvious, so I will not notice them here. We can now pass to a very brief survey of the various senses in detail.



The Eye's Structure is described in all the books on anatomy. I will only mention the few points which concern the psychologist.* It is a flattish sphere formed by a tough

*The student can easily verify the coarser features of the eye's anatomy upon a bullock's eye, which any butcher will furnish. Clean it first from fat and muscles and study its shape, etc., and then (following Golding Bird's method) make an incision with a pointed scalpel into the sclerotic half an inch from the edge of the cornea, so that the black choroid membrane comes into view. Next with one blade of a pair of scissors inserted into this aperature, cut through sclerotic, choroid, and retina (avoid wounding the membrane of the vitreous body!) all round the eyeball parallel to the cornea's edge.

The eyeball is thus divided into two parts, the anterior one containing the iris, lens, vitreous body, etc., whilst the posterior one contains most of the retina. The two parts can be separated by immersing the eyeball in water, cornea downwards, and simply pulling off the portion to which the optic nerve is attached. Floating this detached posterior cap in water, the delicate retina will be seen spread out over the choroid (which is partly iridescent in the ox tribe); and by turning the cup inside out, and working under water with a camel's-hair brush, the vessels and nerves of the eyeball may be detected.

The anterior part of the eyeball can then be attacked. Seize with forceps on each side the edge of the sclerotic and choroid (not including the retina), raise the eye with the forceps thus applied and shake it gently till the vitreous body, lens, capsule, ligament, etc., drop out by their weight, and separate from the iris, ciliary processes, cornea, and sclerotic, which remains in the forceps. Examine these latter parts, and get a view of the ciliary muscle which appears as a white line, when with camel's-hair brush and scalpel the choroid membrane is detached from the sclerotic as far forward as it will go. Turning to the parts that cling to the vitreous body observe the clear ring around the lens, and radiating outside of it the marks made by the ciliary

white membrane (the sclerotic), which encloses a nervous surface and certain refracting media (lens and humors') which cast a picture of the outer world thereon. It is in

[blocks in formation]

processes before they were torn away from its suspensory ligament. A fine capillary tube may now be used to insufflate the clear ring, just below the letter p in Fig. 3, and thus to reveal the suspensory ligament itself.

All these parts can be seen in section in a frozen eye or one hardened in alcohol.

« AnteriorContinuar »