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Direct Vision: A Research Program Exploring Extra-Ocular Vision in Children

Nili Bar, Alex A. Álvarez, Rodrigo Arriola, Gaia-Velvela Barbakow, Eros Quintero, Javier Martinez, Alfredo Silva, Carlos-Iván López-Miranda & Ramsés D’León

Unidad Parapsicológica de Investigación, Difusión y Enseñanza (UPIDE)
Centro de Investigación de la Sintergia y la Consciencia (CISC)

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is the ability to perceive external information without relying on the bodily senses, including telepathy, clairvoyance, remote viewing, and precognition (Cardeña, 2018). Further, popular accounts and clinical reports have appeared over the years describing a rather incredible capacity of some individuals to sense with their fingers the properties of objects that normally only the eyes can detect (Makous, 1966).

This area of interest within ESP research is called direct vision (DV), also known as extra-ocular vision (Grinberg, 1983; Irwin, 2018), intuitive vision, dermo-optical perception (Gardner, 1966; Zabala et al., 1967), or paroptic vision (Chertok, 1966). This phenomenon is described as the ability to replicate a visual experience, not from a retinal source, but from a source yet to be determined.

Various theories have been proposed to explain the causes of this phenomenon; some relate it to psychic development (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, 1983), while others suggest that the skin, as an organ, senses what may be interpreted by the brain as optical input (Sumner-Rooney et al., 2020).

Early Research on Direct Vision

A Bouclier designed to control light and direct contact from the subject (Romains, 1924, p. 57)

A pivotal reference in the study of direct vision is the 1924 book Eyeless Sight by Joules Romains, in which he documents various controlled experiments on human subjects. In some experiments, he used two devices, a Bouclier and Guinol, to control light and direct contact between the participant and the displayed image (Romains, 1924).

Even though there are other isolated research references in works spanning the 1930s through 1950s, psychic skills research did not gain prominence until the late 1960s, influenced by the global political climate, when publications about direct vision began to gain visibility again.

In 1966, Dr. L. Chertok from Cochin Hospital wrote about the case of Rosa Koulechova from the Soviet Union, who reportedly could perceive colors through her fingers. He also presented the case of Mile Pigeaire, who, in 1932, responded to a challenge from the French Academy offering a prize to anyone who could demonstrate seeing without using their eyes (Chertok, 1966). Unfortunately, despite her apparent success, Pigeaire’s demonstration was disqualified as the jury deemed her blindfold insufficient for scientific proof.

Bibscreen box and blindfold combination where S. handled stimulus materials in the box (Zavala et al., 1967, p. 526, adapted from Youtz, 1963).

Something similar happened in 1967 when the American Institute for Research published an article outlining a series of investigations conducted by various scientists examining the case of S., an eighteen-year-old girl, who was subjected to tests where she had to distinguish between colored objects like plastic squares and poker chips to showcase her abilities. The findings favored S.’s claims (Zavala et al., 1967).

Alongside the popularity of psychic skills research, a skeptical culture emerged, questioning the reliability of such evidence. Many skeptics questioned the adequacy of blindfolding techniques, such as Gardner, who penned an article challenging the effectiveness of the blinding methods in DV experiments, including Romain’s studies, the case of S., and others (Gardner, 1966).

Research on Direct Vision has also been published in China. In 1993, Si-Chen Lee began a series of experiments with children 7-13 years old, who, after receiving specific training, were asked to describe a two-digit number written in ink on a folded piece of paper inside a dark, carefully sealed bag. However, Si-Chen Lee’s methodology was questioned because there was a possibility that the students could see the number written on the paper despite it being folded. The methodology was also considered unreliable since each co-experimenter worked with more than one student at a time, which left doubts about the supervision of the students’ behavior and performance (Shiah, 2005).

Direct Vision Research in Mexico

Anecdotal evidence of direct vision has been found in pre-Hispanic cultures; these abilities have been considered a supernatural manifestation of shamanic powers. Take, for example, Adita, an utterly blind shaman from Costa Rica who could still “see” or perceive visual elements. It is said that she could read and lived a seemingly normal life despite her blindness (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, 1989).

The first widely recognized method for developing direct vision in Mexico is attributed to José Luis Altamirano and Guillermo Altamirano, who collaborated with Manuel Carballal (Giménez-González, 1993; Carballal, 2017), Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum (Grinberg, 1990, p. 213; Rendón-Ortiz, 2019, p. 118), and Noé Esperón (Esperón, n.d.); though the exact methods are not described in the available literature.

In the early 1980s, Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum conducted numerous experiments on direct vision. He started his work in two Mexican schools, where groups of children learned the techniques to develop this ability. His book, La Luz Angelmática: El Despertar de la Creatividad y la Visión Extra-ocular (The Awakening of Creativity and Extraocular Vision), outlines these detailed techniques in a chronological sequence:

  1. With the child sitting comfortably and their back straight, the following three breathing exercises were performed:
  2. Forced expulsion of air through the nostrils for 60 seconds with the eyes closed, followed by focused attention between the eyes for 20 seconds.
  3. Alternated breathing through both nostrils for 60 seconds with the eyes closed, followed by concentration on their intercilium for 20 seconds.
  4. Forced inhalation and exhalation of air in a rhythmical and held way until the limit of each child, followed by the meditation below:
  5. Maintaining the same posture, the child received the following instructions: “With your eyes closed, focus on the space between your eyes and let your thoughts flow without blocking or controlling them. Once you succeed, focus on yourself and ask yourself, who am I? Feeling yourself, keep your concentration on yourself for as long as you can.” The instructions were communicated in a way that each child could understand. Meditation time varied from child to child, with a minimum of 5 to 6 minutes and a maximum of 10 to 13 minutes, approximately.
  6. Once the previous point had been reached, the coach sat in front of the child and intertwined their hands with the kid’s, visualizing a line of light that emerged from the palms of the child’s hands and finished in their brain. This visualization continued until the child attained the ability to hold the image of the light line, bright, white, and without interruption.
  7. Occasionally, the tip of a quartz was held by the trainer in contact with the child’s intercilium or close to it. It was informally discovered that this procedure enhanced the training and accelerated the extra-ocular process.
  8. Once the above was reached, the phase of extra-ocular detection began. For that, the child was blindfolded using a special bandage completely dull and adjusted to the eyelids, so retinal vision was thoroughly impossible.
  9. Visual material consisting of high-quality pictures in bright colors and diverse content was offered to the child. The coach placed one or both of the child’s hands over the photograph, making dermal contact with its surface. The child was asked to follow their intuition regarding the dermal exploration of the picture, as well as the exploration of the mental content stimulated by it. The child had to give a detailed description of all their experiences. When requested, verbal feedback about the photograph’s details and correspondence points among the description of the figure and its content was offered. Using natural and spontaneous expressions of awe and approval, the coach reinforced the right choices and corrected the wrong ones.
  10. The feedback process continued until signs of fatigue or disinterest were observed in the child. In the latter, the training stopped, to be continued on another occasion. The child was encouraged to use any type of movement with their hands, thus exploring different possibilities.
  11. When the child was capable of describing the figures shown in the pictures without mistakes, they were asked to set their hands aside from the photographs and attempt to visualize the content without touching it. Later on, the child was instructed to make sweeping moves in the space between their body and the picture, quickly contracting their fingers. This method accented the details and enhanced focus, as well as limiting the distance in which the child could still distinguish subtle shapes such as printed letters.
  12. Finally, the child was encouraged to cease using their hands entirely and instead “see” the contents directly without the help of movements (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, 2008b, pp. 220-222).

Grinberg reported that the children developed other psychic skills, such as remote viewing, intracorporeal vision, and telepathy (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, 2008a). He also offered an explanation of extra-ocular vision through his Syntergic Theory, in which he proposes that human experience, and reality itself, emerges as the result of the interactions and distortions between the neuronal fields (the fields generated by the interaction between the neurons) and the quantum field (the informational matrix or fundamental structure of space-time, also called “Lattice”). He proposes that the level of syntergy (informational organization) is mediated by the level of consolidation of the perception of the self. Since children do not have an advanced consolidation of their self, it is easier for them to experience a state of unity (the level of maximum syntergy) and therefore have a greater possibility of transforming the information located in the Lattice in a perceptual experience (Grinberg-Zylberbaum, 1983, 1994).

Building upon his work, Noé Esperón created the VEO® method to develop direct vision towards the end of the 1990s. This method consists of ten sessions, each of which incorporates meditations, self-knowledge exercises, and sequenced work with specific cards and images aimed to facilitate the spiritual growth of students. His website claims that the activation of VEO® can be achieved in 100% of children 6-12 years old (Esperón, n.d.). Since then, there has been little to no research on the topic in Mexico.

It is worth noting that in 2015, the Unit of Parapsychological Research, Investigation, Dissemination and Education (Unidad Parapsicológica de Investigación, Difusión y Enseñanza – UPIDE) was formed reinitiating psi research in the country with several replications of negentropic field studies previously conducted by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Radin et al., 2017), and later using physiological anticipation protocols employed with cost-effective equipment (D’León & Izara, 2018). Most of these studies were done for exploratory purposes and have not been published.

Part of the UPIDE research team. From left to right; top: Carlos Iván López-Miranda, Ramsés D’León, Javier Martinez, Gaia-Velvela Barbakow. Bottom: Eros Quintero, Adriana Beristain, Rodrigo Arriola, Nili Bar & Stephany Luna

Moreover, in 2020, UPIDE was integrated as the research unit for the Center for the Investigation of Syntergy and Consciousness (Centro de Investigación de la Sintergia y la Consciencia – CISC). Since then, UPIDE has replicated protocols related to the work of Jacobo Grinberg-Zylberbaum, putting his theories to the test. Our team comprises biologists, electrical engineers, psychologists, teachers, anthropologists, physicists, electroencephalographists, and ophthalmologists. We are developing interdisciplinary methods to explore the potential significance and impact of DV on children’s quality of life.

Children participating in our research are trained using a DV method developed by Nili Bar, which eschews a rigid program. Each class is adapted to the interests and progress of the children and the general environment of the group. Therefore, we use a very basic guideline of activities that are adapted for each session. This method uses meditation as a basis to promote a favorable environment for both individual and collective work. During the first classes, a group meditation is carried out to induce the students into a state conducive to starting the DV exercises. The procedure is repeated for three or four sessions, each time using a new meditation shorter than the previous session and changing the images that are shown to the children. More complex exercises are also incorporated, such as reading first a letter, then a word and finally an entire paragraph.

Usually, after the fourth class, the children learn to activate their DV independently, achieving the necessary mental state by visualizing a board with a green button that, when mentally pressed, activates their ability. This is in order to teach them to work autonomously when they are out of the course, that way they can continue practicing always.

The progression of the exercises is adapted to the level to which each child advances. Usually, after the fourth class, the children learn to activate their DV independently, achieving the necessary mental state by visualizing a board with a green button that, when mentally pressed, activates their ability. This is in order to teach them to work autonomously when they are out of the course, that way they can continue practicing always.

The first minutes of every class are used to corroborate the presence of DV by describing cards and simple images, and then we begin to work with each child according to their level; some read, others put together puzzles, and some play a board game. All this using blindfolds. Once all the children have demonstrated that their DV is active, we proceed to group exercises such as board games or rounds where each child shows a card to another, and the child has to describe it. We have observed that in most cases, a child may see a card hidden from the rest of the group while the other students describe it in detail.

After the fourth or fifth class, they should be ready to carry out group dynamics of physical games that require the child to be able to see their surroundings in a way very similar to retinal vision. In most cases, it is informally observed that they also appear to move things with their minds and communicate telepathically. However, after the appearance of DV in children, the activities become spontaneous and mostly collective. That is why we choose a combination of quantitative and qualitative tests to allow them to experience a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere during the activities.

Currently, meditation is acknowledged as a method to enhance focus and manage impulses, so it is not unusual to see meditation workshops in schools. However, these often do not include teaching strategies that align with classroom content or consider the developmental needs of children aged six to eleven.

Although our work is exploratory, we have three clear research objectives:

  1. Exploring potential alternative ways of perception beyond the retinal.
  2. Analyzing the relationship between brain activity and the occurrence of DV.
  3. Improving the lives of students experiencing DV.

DV trainees playing Twister®, enabling a harmonic social dynamic and showing an apparent collective and coordinated flow

In late 2022, we began preparing a group of nine children, aged seven to eleven, to receive six sessions of DV training for later experimental sessions. During the sessions, the children were engaged in meditation, observing colors and shapes, reading, and playful activities such as solving puzzles, coloring mandalas, board games, and movement activities, among others. All these activities were conducted while they were blindfolded.

Later, in June 2023, we invited the children to complete a series of tasks incorporating various control methods. Some were adapted or inspired by previous studies, while others were quite novel. Here we share some of the novel methods and insights gained during this ongoing research program.

Control Methods


UPIDE conducts its experiments using a nose-peek-proof blindfold. The blindfold features an elastic band with velcro around the head for a secure fit and is covered with a black plastic sheet. Between the plastic sheet and the subject’s eyes is a 2 cm thick layer of black foam rubber, shaped anatomically to adapt to the subject’s face, and two holes for the eyes, making it impossible to peek by turning one’s eyes downward. The foam rubber successfully blocks the apertures formed on each side of the nose, present while using other types of blindfolds, and hinders the passage of light.

Researchers such as Gardner (1966) have suggested that a “sniff” posture can allow vision even while blindfolded. Nevertheless, this trick is useless with this type of blindfold since there is no hole where one can see through.

The foam-based blindfold used by UPIDE

Pupil Dilatation

In some cases, the UPIDE team may broaden its controls by inviting a retina specialist to administer pupil dilation (tetracaine as anesthesia, and tropicamide and phenylephrine for dilation), allowing researchers to introduce a clinical condition that impairs reading ability, particularly for fine print.

The DV Box

Seeking a way to extend the blindfold’s efficacy in blocking retinal vision, we introduced an additional control between the child’s face and the experimental target. UPIDE has created a box from non-reflective material, akin to Romain’s Bouclier, allowing us to display images on an internal electronic device, such that only the child’s hands could interact with the projected pictures of color and number cards.

UPIDE’s DV Box uses white acrylic, which allows light to pass through but obstructs the view of the images inside. Its volume is 22 cm3 and has two holes of approximately 10 cm in diameter on each side covered with foam, allowing the user to place their hands in the box, but preventing them from seeing the inside. A phone displaying experimental targets is placed in a case fixed to the interior with velcro, so that it doesn’t easily move with the user’s touch.


UPIDE monitors all of its sessions with four HD cameras strategically positioned around the experimental area, 1.5 m (4.92 ft) away from the experimental setup, with an additional camera on the ceiling. Monitors are set up in a separate room, allowing parents to interact with staff and watch their children’s performance.



The team has developed two custom-made applications using Kotlin, designed for Android 8.0 (API 26) or higher devices. These apps use the kotlin.random.random class, which provides the default generator of pseudo-random values for Kotlin, to choose a random flashcard (totaling 17 images, encompassing animals, objects, or clothes) or an UNO card (comprising 52 images, with all numbers, skip, reverse, and draw two included).

A card is selected at random when either the a) volume up button, b) volume down button, or c) play/pause button (with wired headphones only) is pressed. Both applications also feature a logging function that records the name of the image and the time it was selected, saving it to internal storage. These applications are available for free on Android and can be downloaded using the following links: UPIDE DV Flashcard App ( & UPIDE DV UNO App (

The Child Assessment Battery

Upon observing improvements in children’s lives through the course of teaching DV, our team decided to incorporate the Child Assessment Battery (Batería de Evaluación Infantil – BEI), a set of three scales adequate for children within our age range. It evaluates stress levels, coping, and how children internalize and externalize their problems. The scales are administered before and after the course to observe the changes shown in these specific areas.

Experimental Tasks

UPIDE’s Direct Vision research program involves several activities to keep experimental sessions fun and playful for the children.

The DV Box Task

The DV box, made of white acrylic, lets light in but obstructs the view of the images inside

In this task, participants are asked, while blindfolded, to reach into box openings and touch a phone screen displaying three numbered and colored images of cards for each child. After touching the screen, the kids are asked to describe the number and color they are ”seeing”. Preliminary observations suggest that most children could correctly identify at least one card’s color. Some could even confidently identify both the right number and color.

UNO Game Task

In this task, two blindfolded students and an unblindfolded UPIDE researcher play UNO, a card game featuring cards in four different colors, each with a number, along with some special action cards like “draw two” and ”skip”. The goal is to place cards in the pile, taking turns. Every card must match the color or number of the card placed by the previous player until one of the players runs out of cards. If a player has no card that matches the one in the pile, the player must draw additional cards until they find one that can be used.

As a control, an UPIDE researcher stands behind each player to observe whether they could play a card or not in each round. Approximately six rounds are played with different players each time. We observe that in approximately four of six rounds, the game may occur without impediments and with a fluency similar to when the game is played without blindfolds. So, most of the children could choose a card from their hand that matched the one in the pile.

Matching Cards Task

Subject I coloring a mandala while connected to the EEG and blindfolded without apparent auditory or sensory cues.

This task uses two sets of scholastic flash cards. Five cards are placed on a table and their pairs are given to each child in a random order. Children are asked to place each card over its pair on the table while blindfolded.

The goal is for the blindfolded children to match identical images. This simpler task helps reduce stress and provides a brief rest between more controlled-focused tests while keeping the children in the right mental state for subsequent exercises. We have observed that over half of the child participants are able to correctly match all the cards.

Exploratory Tasks with Brain Monitoring

UPIDE has further monitored brain activity in some of its blindfolded participants using a 32-channel medical-grade EEG, allowing a look at what is happening in the brain during activities such as coloring, completing puzzles, or describing photographs.

Results will be discussed in upcoming publications, but we observed Subject G. successfully describe the general characteristics of two images presented in front of her: a picture of the Chichen Itzá pyramid and that of an active volcano. She was sensorially-aided only by tactile exploration of the smooth image surface and accurately identified the pyramid as a large, white, man-made structure. She also accurately described the volcano image, sensing qualities like radiating heat.

Left: Subject G doing VD while connected to the EEG and blindfolded / Right: Images of Chichen Itzáand the volcano

Impacts on Quality of Life

In the course of developing this research program, UPIDE noticed changes in the behavior of the participants. First, we saw a radical physical change in some children. It was common to notice that after the second or third session, they got a haircut, their clothing style was different, or even their posture, body language, and expressions changed.

We inquired if the parents had observed any behavioral changes in their children since the beginning of the study, and they unanimously noted increased confidence. Many reported improved behaviors, and some mentioned the elimination of bad habits like nail-biting or issues with sleep.

Upon concluding the course, children as asked to share what they valued most. Few mention their development of DV. Rather, their highlights focused on their academic improvements, wholesomeness, and even the perceived diminishing of violence from some classmates who used to bully them.

Course participant solving a puzzle while blindfolded.

Throughout various project and testing phases, the palpable enthusiasm and cooperative spirit from children, parents, and researchers alike suggest that our methodologies are apt and highly motivating for everyone involved.

Of utmost importance is the perception of the children and their parents. At the conclusion of the course, the father of O. and K. shared: O. and K. have experienced overwhelmingly positive changes, exhibiting a newfound growth, akin to an awakening or heightened awareness as inherent co-creators of reality. They exhibit increased resilience, ease, and focus; their intelligence seems more adaptively flexible, displaying a heightened curiosity – I find myself learning so much from them. It makes it easier for them to pick up books and express themselves. They share a lot of appreciation for life. I have noticed they are more grateful.

In another report, following the initial session, T’s mother noted: In these eight days, Tauno has been more expressive in school; he has been allowed to play more and express his joy with all his body and voice. He referred to starting to learn how to better perceive his DV. The example he used was: It’s like being able to see into a bottle, not just gazing at it from the outside, but truly understanding it from the inside.

Upon concluding the course, children as asked to share what they valued most. Few mention their development of DV. Rather, their highlights focused on their academic improvements, wholesomeness, and even the perceived diminishing of violence from some classmates who used to bully them.

Although it is still too early to draw conclusions about the physiological or psychophysiological mechanisms of DV, our current research program advances the consideration of psychic abilities as an important phenomenon that deserves serious scientific study.

It is not our intention to enter into the old debate that aims to prove or deny the existence of psychic abilities. Rather, we aim to gather evidence that generates curiosity and interest, opening a path towards understanding human potential from a perspective that has prevailed in various cultures, but is not yet fully acknowledged by modern academia.

The acknowledgment of these skills may cultivate meaningful experiences, enriching our, and our children’s, quality of life. We hope that this ongoing research program will contribute to the understanding of our own being beyond reductionist models.

Author’s Bio

Nili Bar (Mexico City, 1973) has a master’s degree in Educational Sciences. She began her studies regarding Direct Vision in 2020, and eventually created her own method to develop this skill. She joined the UPIDE team in 2022, and with their collaboration, she is conducting this research.

UPIDE is a CISC subsidiary dedicated to scientific, methodical, and experimental research into consciousness and psi; particularly phenomena related to extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, and the survival hypothesis.


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