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Matt J. Dunn, Simon K. Rushton; Lateral visual occlusion does not change walking trajectories. Journal of Vision 2018;18(9):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/18.9.11.
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Difficulties with walking are often reported following brain damage that causes a lateralized loss of awareness on one side. Whether lateralized loss of awareness has a direct causal impact on walking is unknown. A review of the literature on visually guided walking suggests several reasons why a lateralized loss of visual awareness might be expected to lead to difficulties walking. Here, we isolated and examined the effect of lateralized vision loss on walking behavior in real and virtual environments. Healthy young participants walked to a target placed within a real room, in a virtual corridor, or on a virtual ground plane. In the ground-plane condition, the scene either was empty or contained three obstacles. We reduced vision on one side by occluding one eye (Experiment 1 and 2) or removing one hemifield, defined relative to either the head or trunk (Experiment 2), through use of eye patching (Experiment 1) and a virtual-reality system (Experiment 2). Visual-field restrictions did not induce significant deviations in walking paths in any of the occlusion conditions or any of the environments. The results provide further insight into the visual information that guides walking in humans, and suggest that lateralized vision loss on its own is not the primary cause of walking difficulties.
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