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Ask Sue Your Questions

ByTom MillerThe Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Click here for Sue’s profile.

You may not have asked a neurobiologist/3D visionary a question in quite a while. Or maybe not ever – what are the odds of it really?

But that’s why we’re here for you, folks.

Q: “M”

I thought we always saw in 3D. Please explain.

A: Sue Barry

Most people develop the ability to see in 3D in early infancy. This skill depends upon the ability to point your two eyes at the same place in space at the same time. I however was cross-eyed from the first months of life so that my two eyes did not point to the same place in space. I learned how to coordinate my eyes and see in 3D as a result of optometric vision therapy at the age of 48. This was considered quite surprising because it was generally thought that the ability to see in 3D could develop only during a “critical period” in early childhood. After that period, the brain could no longer change. However, the adult brain is much more flexible and able to change than scientists previously realized.

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.