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Cedar Riener, Jessica Witt, Jason Augustyn, Dennis Proffitt; An influence of “warming up” on distance perception. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):720. https://doi.org/10.1167/6.6.720.
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Recent research by Proffitt and colleagues has indicated that the perception of distance is influenced by the state of the body. These studies demonstrate effects of physiological state on distance perception by inducing large changes in physiological state and observing differences in estimates of distance perception. The current study examines the influence of a more subtle change in physiological state, that of “warming up.” Warming up before exercise prepares muscles for work and improves cardiovascular efficiency. Warming up therefore decreases the amount of effort required to traverse a certain distance, whereas fatigue increases the amount of effort required. Following the hypothesis that perceived distance is influenced by the predicted effort required to act on that distance, distances would appear closer to those observers who have warmed up, compared to those who have not.
In the current study, two groups of participants first made several distance estimates to targets in a hallway as baseline measure. Then, one group of participants warmed up by riding slowly on a stationary bicycle for three minutes, while the other group sat down for three minutes. Finally each group made a second set of distance estimates. A ratio score was constructed by dividing the post-adaptation by the pre-adaptation estimates. The ratio scores were significantly lower (indicating a relative decrease) in the group that warmed up, compared to the group that sat. This result further supports the hypothesis that physiological state can influence the perception of distance.
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