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Kyle T. Gagnon, Margaret R. Tarampi, Mackenzie S. Peyton, Sarah H. Creem-Regehr; Manipulating Embodiment in Imagined Spatial Perspective Taking. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):77. doi: 10.1167/11.11.77.
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Spatial perspective taking is the ability to imagine a perspective from a location in space that is different from one's current physical location, requiring a transformation of one's egocentric reference frame. While observers are able to accomplish this task quite well, it is unknown how closely an imagined perspective is tied to the physical representation of the body. We manipulated two factors that could contribute to embodiment in spatial perspective taking: real-world experience in perspective taking and the presence of a visual avatar in the display. Participants completed a real-world version of a spatial perspective taking task prior to a computer-based version, by either walking to the new location around a table or imagining themselves at the new location, while viewing six colored objects on the table. Following this practice, participants completed a similar computer-based task in which some trials presented a virtual avatar in the imagined location, while others did not. Participants determined the location of one of six colored spheres on the table based on their imagined perspective and responded by indicating left, right, top, or bottom with a button press. The results demonstrate that prior experience with real versus imagined self-movement did not influence time or accuracy to imagine a new spatial perspective. However, the presence of an avatar in the computer-based task reduced response times and increased accuracy rates overall compared to trials with no avatar present. Furthermore, a significant degree of rotation x condition (avatar/no avatar) interaction for response time suggests that the presence of the avatar may change the imagined perspective taking process. Ongoing studies are examining whether facilitation in perspective taking is similar with a non-body object as well as the neural substrates associated with embodied manipulations.
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