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Myrka Zago, Barbara La Scaleia, William L. Miller, Francesco Lacquaniti; Coherence of structural visual cues and pictorial gravity paves the way for interceptive actions. Journal of Vision 2011;11(10):13. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.10.13.
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Dealing with upside-down objects is difficult and takes time. Among the cues that are critical for defining object orientation, the visible influence of gravity on the object's motion has received limited attention. Here, we manipulated the alignment of visible gravity and structural visual cues between each other and relative to the orientation of the observer and physical gravity. Participants pressed a button triggering a hitter to intercept a target accelerated by a virtual gravity. A factorial design assessed the effects of scene orientation (normal or inverted) and target gravity (normal or inverted). We found that interception was significantly more successful when scene direction was concordant with target gravity direction, irrespective of whether both were upright or inverted. This was so independent of the hitter type and when performance feedback to the participants was either available (Experiment 1) or unavailable (Experiment 2). These results show that the combined influence of visible gravity and structural visual cues can outweigh both physical gravity and viewer-centered cues, leading to rely instead on the congruence of the apparent physical forces acting on people and objects in the scene.
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