Deprived of Sense

The results on my first ganzfeld experiment were...disappointing.

The idea is to starve the brain of sensory input. Vision is reduced to a vague wash of colour by placing translucent screens - traditionally half ping-pong balls - over the eyes. Sound is smeared by playing white noise (in this case grey noise) through headphones. Other senses are "numbed" with a comfortable chair or bed, no strong smells etc.

Without coherent input, the brain starts to generate it's own - usually visual images. Personally, I suspect this is what's happening when we dream.

So what did I see? Not much. The occasional fleeting glimpse of a robin gathering twigs, a computer display of an unknown program, and a swirling set of blue triangles like you might find on a screensaver. Nothing different from the soup of images I always see just before dropping off to sleep.

There was the blindness effect - whereby the white wash in the visible field dimmed and became black after several minutes - only to return when I moved my eyes.

After forty minutes, I felt refreshed, alert and happy - as you might expect after a doze. But not entertained by hallucinations.

I think the problem was that there was still too much sensory stimulus. The occasional creaking of the headphones interrupted the noise, the visual field wasn't uniform enough, and the slight lumpiness of the bed became highly noticeable - presumably because my brain was searching for input.

Next time then, louder noise, smoother light (monochromatic if I can manage), and hopefully something to report.

And I need some new ping-pong balls.

Where on earth do you buy ping-pong balls?

1 comment:

  1. A few years back, a friend and I had an opportunity to try out a sensory deprivation tank. I told him to go for it but I wasn't going to get into that thing. I know I would have fallen asleep and with my luck, I probably would have then drowned in that little bit of water they put in there. THAT would have been a embarrassing way to go.