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Laurence R. Harris, Charles Mander; Perceived distance depends on the orientation of both the body and the visual environment. Journal of Vision 2014;14(12):17. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.12.17.
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Models of depth perception typically omit the orientation and height of the observer despite the potential usefulness of the height above the ground plane and the need to know about head position to interpret retinal disparity information. To assess the contribution of orientation to perceived distance, we used the York University Tumbled and Tumbling Room facilities to modulate both perceived and actual body orientation. These facilities are realistically decorated rooms that can be systematically arranged to vary the relative orientation of visual, gravity, and body cues to upright. To assess perceived depth we exploited size/distance constancy. Observers judged the perceived length of a visual line (controlled by a QUEST adaptive procedure) projected on to the wall of the facilities, relative to the length of an unseen iron rod held in their hands. In the Tumbled Room (viewing distance 337 cm) the line was set about 10% longer when participants were supine compared to when they were upright. In the Tumbling Room (viewing distance 114 cm), the line was set about 11% longer when participants were either supine or made to feel that they were supine by the orientation of the room. Matching a longer visual line to the reference rod is compatible with the opposite wall being perceived as closer. The effect was modulated by whether viewing was monocular or binocular at a viewing distance of 114 cm but not at 337 cm suggesting that reliable binocular cues can override the effect.
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