After watching the last episode of the anime Chaos;Child, I (and possibly other people) come into a question, Who was Woodburn Heron? His research is quoted in the anime, but when you search on Google you can only find his article "The Pathology of Boredom" and other articles in collaboration with Donald O. Hebb, nothing in specific related to the person itself.

When I read the article cited above, I understood the quote done by the anime, the research about sensorial restriction, but who was that guy? What more he studied? His is importance so small? Why would the Chaos;Child authors quote it then?

I ask in the hope that someone who has studied psychology and related more academically has come up with some information about it someday and can share it with us, something that books (lost in some specific library ~I didn't find anything in the public library of my city (not that I had any hope of finding it in that)~) probably have, but the internet has not yet.


Woodburn Heron's own research seem to have been less notable then that of his mentor, Hebb. But "The Pathology of Boredom" was published in Scientific American, a popular magazine which is much more accessible to the general public than learned academic journals. This probably explains why Heron is so widely quoted.

Woodburn Heron seems to have spent a significant part of his career at McMaster University in Canada. (He studied with Hebb at McGill University, also in Canada.) His own research emphasized the study of visual perception in animals, not bordeom in human subjects. Names of people who studied under Heron at McMaster are easy to find.

I was unable to determine whether he had any relation to Captain Alexander Woodburn Heron or the rest of the Heron family that went to Jamaica in the 1700s.


Bernard "Woody" Woodburn-Heron was my stepfather. He was related to the Manchester Parish Herons.

His mother was Edith Ethel Heron (#66iii in the attached genealogy) http://www.jamaicanfamilysearch.com/Members/rheron.htm

He grew up at Spitzbergen near Walderston, a house I remember well. (Will Robson has other photos) http://www.will-robson.com/keyword/spitzbergen/

Her husband and first cousin, Percy Vivian Hall Woodburn Heron, was Woody's stepfather. We used to call him Mas' Viv. He was not a kind man, and both Woody and his mother loathed him. Percival Sigismund Junor, at the time, according to Woody, a "travelling Lebanese Jewish salesman" who ended up being one of the wealthiest men in Jamaica, was Woody's actual father, though never claimed him.

It was a strange upbringing. Woody was sent early to boarding school in Canada. He was trained as a concert pianist, but instead became a research psychologist. I used to help him in his lab at McMaster as a kid, putting electrodes into pigeons' heads (the split brain perception experiments). He was pretty chaotic, not managing research grant applications well at all, or much else of regular life. However, he was a great stepfather, ensuring that we all knew our way around Edgar Rice Burroughs, spaghetti westerns, English music hall songs, and hardware stores.

He passed away of cancer in 1994. That's about all I can tell you .


Do you recall the scene where Senri was restricted with some greyish Michelin looking body suit? That was probably her undergoing the experiment that Woodburn Heron devised.

Woodburn Heron was examining how our human brains would cope in the event of sensory deprivation, basically with our senses blocked, how would we react. His participants were made to lie on a bed in a bare, soundproof room and remain completely still. Padded tubes covered their arms so that they had no sense of touch, and translucent goggles to cut off their vision. Many participants reported that the experience was extremely unpleasant, not just because of the social isolation but also because they lost their focus. Some even hallucinated as if their brain was somehow trying to create the sensory experiences that they suddenly lacked (delusions to reality kicks in if you've been basked under the white light... maybe?) Most of the participants asked to be released from the study before it ended.

Referring back to Chaos; Child, their powers came from traumatic experiences. Let's say our dear main character Takuru. When he woke from the coma, he had lost his ability to move. Lacking some sensory input, it could have been possible that his brain created hallucinations to allow him to reach for things. That's why he had the power of psychokinesis.

He may not have published much but his sensory deprivation experiment is known by those that study psychology.

  • 1
    Sources would improve this answer.
    – MCW
    Jan 24 '19 at 12:04

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