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Pearl S. Guterman, Robert S. Allison, Simon K. Rushton; The visual control of walking: do we go with the (optic) flow?. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):1017. doi: 10.1167/7.9.1017.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
What visual information guides locomotion? Optic flow, the global pattern of motion at the vantage point of the eye, specifies the direction of self-motion, and could be used to control walking. Alternatively, we could walk in the perceived direction of a target. Recent evidence suggests that the type of visual environment can influence steering behaviour. However, controversy remains as to whether this demonstrates direct, online use of flow or indirect influence on context and recalibration of direction. The current literature is complicated by methodological as well as theoretical differences between prism-based and head mounted display based studies. Both techniques have well-known limitations that have complicated comparisons across studies. Here we tested undergraduate students (n = 6) using an immersive virtual environment, where the heading specified by flow was displaced by 0°, ±5° and ±10° from the direction of the target through the virtual environment or prism displacement. Observers walked (stepped in-place) to a target in five virtual environments, which consisted of a plain gray or textured ground; blue sky; and zero, one, ten, or twenty objects in it. The distance to the target from the start position was 20 m, nearly double that of comparable studies. For all displacement conditions, observers walked in the perceived direction of the target, and there was no significant main effect of the environment. The findings suggest that egocentric direction is used to guide locomotion on foot, regardless of more or less objects that enhance flow in the environment.
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