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Nabil Daddaoua, Peter W. Dicke, Peter Thier; The subjective visual vertical in a nonhuman primate. Journal of Vision 2008;8(3):19. doi: 10.1167/8.3.19.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
We perceive the visual world as upright as our visual system used information on the orientation of the body to update the internal representation of the visual scene. In humans, this updating is not perfect, thus leading to distortions of the subjective visual vertical. For small roll-tilt angles (<60°), subjects overestimate the body tilt (E-effect), whereas for larger angles they underestimate it (A-effect). We wanted to know if monkeys show comparable perceptual distortions as they might help to identify the neural basis of a tilt-independent representation of visual objects at the level of single neurons. In order to answer this question, we trained two monkeys to align an arrow with an upright world-centered reference line whose visibility was varied between trials. Trials were performed at roll-tilt angles chosen from −90° to 90°. The monkeys' responses were precise for trials in which the reference line was visible. However, for the trials in which there was no reference line, their responses reflected an overestimation of body tilt (E-effect-like) very similar to humans. Our ability to demonstrate similar visuo-vestibular illusions in monkeys and man is an important step towards understanding the neural mechanism responsible for the perception of an upright visual world.
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