In pre-revolutionary scientific literature there was a women described, who was able, with her eyes covered with a bandage, identify colours and read through sealed envelopes touching them with the tips of her fingers. But still, you can not help being greatly impressed when you meet Rosa Kuleshova. How can we explain her amazing ability to determine inscriptions, made in different types, drawings on post cards, colour of paper, fabrics, threads Just touching them? The experiments, made by senior lecturers S.Dobronravov and Y. Fishelev (Sverdlovsk-city) and further research, made in the laboratory of Psychology of the Nizhny Tagil Teachers' Training Institute by Dr. I.Goldberg, senior lecturer M.Kojevnikov and the auther of this article, made it possible to conclude that Rosa has the type of sensitivity that can be called dermo-optical perception.
Rosa feels the colour of the light, penetrating through light filters and falling onto her fingers. Rosa says: " This ray is red, that ray is green; that one is orange, and the other one is blue". Moreover, she is able to identify not only a bright ray of light, but a weak one as well. She can even better identify coloured rays, let through the lens filled with water and then reflected on her hand with a mirror.
It was noticed, that sometimes while reading, her fingers are below the line, but Rosa is still able to read what is written there. To understand this phenomenon, an experiment was set up. Grey-colored triangles, placed against a bright-colored background: first red, then green, and then the yellow one were shown to Rosa. Those grey triangles, due to the contrast effect, visually acquire, especially on the edges, the shade complementary to the color of the background - against the red background gray triangles turn green, against the green background they seem pinkish, on the yellow - blue. Rosa's finger was put in the middle of the grey triangle so that it would not touch the surrounding coloured background. Every time she identified the surface not as grey but as a coloured one, the color being complementary to the background: green, pink, blue. It means that her fingers perceived the light, reflected from the neighbouring coloured parts. The ability of sensing colour differences allowed Rosa to read with her hand texts and numbers through glass and cellophane, define shape and colour of the curve on the oscillograph screen, and level, and sometimes even colour of liquids in a test-tube.
Rosa's dermo-optical perception is subject to the same laws of colour merging as our visual perception. When Rosa touched a blue square placed into red light, she saw it as violet, as did the experimenter who was watching it at the same time. When instead of red light it was illuminated with white, then both Rosa with her fingers and the experimenter with his eyes identified the square as blue.
Paper, for example, is perceived by us as white no matter if it is in bright sunlight, twilight or electric light. If the same paper in placed into bright coloured light, for example, red, it takes he color of the light and looks red. Strange as it may seem, but Rosa Kuleshova, with her ability for skin-optical perception, perceives the paper as white, even if it is placed into the direct rays of red.
Rosa Kuleshova is also experiencing more vivid optical illusions than all of us, who do not possess the ability for cutaneous-optical perception.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES ?
Dermo-optical perception has some piculiarities which can not be seen by human eye. Rosa learned to identify by touch colour shades, letters and numbers through a sheet of white paper.
While using fingers, perception of electromagnetic vibration with the help of cutaneos analysis leads to appearing in human mind of not visual but special optical forms of skin sensitivity. Rosa can not always describe them, but she says that she senses every colour in a special way - like "crosses", "dots", "curves", "lines" etc. These cutaneous-optical feelings are the signals for her to identify certain colours and change in illumination of the objects, the same as visual forms are signals for us. During the experiments it was noticed that Rosa's cutaneous-optical sensitivity is often associated with certain verbal symbols, not based on the visual perception and imagination. She, for example, can easily memorize a new, unfamiliar colour, only touching it with her fingers and learning its name.
Afterwards, skin feelings of this colour gets closely connected with the name of the colour so she easily recognizes it when touching it again.While reading and touching the pictures view sight disturbs her, and that is why Kuleshova tries to tie the bandage as tight as possible, so that no light could penetrate into her eyes. It is important to mention that Rosa Kuleshova is not just a person being tested but she is also a well trained, inventive experimenter. Sometimes during the experiment she finds a new solution or offers an original way or method.
WHAT ARE THE PERSPECTIVES?
Rosa Kuleshova's case is very interesting, but still it is a single one. Can the cutaneous- optical sense be developed in other people? For that reason the Pedagogics and Psychology Department of Nimy Tagil Teachers' Training Institute set up an experiment among the students of Art and Graphics Faculty. 50 art students were selected to participate. They started intensive training in determining colors with tips of their fingers. During the training period their eyes were tied with black wadding bandage. View sight was not involved at all. From 50 students 10 showed good ability of cutaneous-optical perception. They learned to identify two and then three and more colours. All the regularities of colour sense, that were revealed during the experiment with Rosa Kuleshova, were observed among the students. This information makes it possible to find new methods of treating people with eye problems.
"Engineering - youth" 4/1963.