This is the third blog post in a series on the collaboration between neuropsychiatrist Dominic ffytche and artist Tamiko Thiel in creating an augmented reality installation around the visual perceptual disorder of palinopsia.


Last month Tamiko brought a series of questions to Dominic at the Institute of Psychiatry to try and understand and re-imagine palinopsia through augmented reality.


Palinopsia literature typically focuses on case studies, often comparing up to four accounts within one paper thus it is difficult, at first glance, to establish consistencies between different patient experiences. Tamiko asked a variety of practical questions alongside others queries that explored the patient’s control over their palinoptic experiences.


From Dominic’s answers we understood that palinoptic experiences can be of anything: animal, vegetable, mineral, texture and in one case moustaches. They can be either discrete objects or fragments of larger bodies. Palinoptic objects appear suddenly, like a hard jump cut in film and can away almost as sharply or fade out. They appear in perspective and map themselves around 3D objects usually existing in the centre of the visual field, but occasionally on the periphery. The scale of the palinoptic object appears to depend on the depth of field; it appears large in the distance and small if you looked at your hand.


Many questions about consistent characteristics of palinoptic experiences could not be definitively answered. It was unclear whether objects move or act in unison or whether an objects rotation is defined by an axis point.


Many of Tamiko’s questions focused on the patient’s control over their experience, and whether they can predict or manage palinopsia. It appears episodes cannot be induced and patients report not being able to tell in advance which objects or textures will detach from the environment.



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