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Gateways to the Mind: tricky trapezoid

4 minutes

Optical illusions show how past experience dramatically influences perception

‘I’ll never trust another trapezoid.’

Part of a series of educational films produced by Bell Laboratories between 1956 and 1964, Gateways to the Mind (1958) explored human senses and perception using animations, demonstrations and in-the-lab sequences. In this brief excerpt, the US English professor and public educator Frank C Baxter walks the audience through three experiments carried out at Princeton University’s Perception Demonstration Center, each highlighting the powerful relationship between perception and past experience.

Director: Owen Crump


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Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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