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Jonathan Zadra, Dennis Proffitt; Oral Exposure to Glucose Affects Perception of Spatial Layout. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1204. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1204.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Previous studies have shown that the perceptual metric for walkable distances is bioenergetic. People perceive hills to be steeper and distances to be greater when encumbered or fatigued, and supplementation of bioenergetic resources causes the reverse: participants who complete a task to deplete blood glucose levels and then drink an artificially sweetened placebo beverage estimate hills to be steeper and distances to be greater than participants who instead drink a beverage containing glucose (glucose is the primary fuel for short-term physical activity). In exercise physiology, it is very well established that glucose supplementation enhances athletic performance. Interestingly, introducing carbohydrate solutions to the mouth but prohibiting any ingestion (i.e., rinsing and spitting) can also enhance performance. These findings suggest that the relationship between glucose levels and physical performance is not entirely reactionary with regards to momentary blood glucose levels. It seems that signals that would normally indicate an upcoming increase in blood glucose may trigger either physiological or cognitive processes (or both) that result in the same increase in performance as an actual glucose increase. Because a bioenergetic perceptual scale reflects the perceiver's ability to act, any factor that affects physical or athletic performance should also affect perception of spatial layout. To test whether oral exposure to glucose without ingestion would affect perception of walkable distances, the following experiments had participants chew and spit out gelatin sweetened either with artificial sweetener or glucose and then judge the slant of a hill (Experiment 1) or a series of distances to makers in a flat field (Experiment 2). In line with the effects of oral glucose exposure on physical performance, participants in the glucose conditions perceived hills to be shallower and distances to be shorter, respectively.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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