Alfred Wilhelm Volkmann on stereoscopic vision

Nicholas J. Wade (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Wheatstone's demonstration of binocular single vision and depth with stimulation of non-corresponding points reverberated throughout mid-nineteenth century German visual science. It challenged the received view that single vision was a consequence of retinal correspondence otherwise objects were seen double. Wheatstone also argued that stimulation of corresponding points could yield double vision. He interpreted his experimental observations in psychological rather than physiological terms, as did Helmholtz later. Volkmann addressed both of these challenges in a long article on stereoscopic vision published in 1859. While he accepted the first of the questions Wheatstone posed Volkmann was more cautious with regard to the second. Volkmann was an experimentalist who applied psychophysical methods to determine thresholds for stereoscopic depth perception. In line with many of his colleagues in Germany, he took issue implicitly with Wheatstone's approach: how can the detailed quantitative experiments supporting Vieth and Müller's interpretation of binocular single vision be derailed by simple observations with a stereoscope? Unlike most of his colleagues, Volkmann was swayed in Wheatstone's favor through his own experiments: both physiological and psychological processes are involved in stereoscopic depth perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Volkmann
  • Wheatstone
  • stereoscopic vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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