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Huaiyong Zhao, Dominik Straub, Constantin A. Rothkopf; The visual control of interceptive steering: How do people steer a car to intercept a moving target?. Journal of Vision 2019;19(14):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.14.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The visually guided interception of a moving target is a fundamental visuomotor task that humans can do with ease. But how humans carry out this task is still unclear despite numerous empirical investigations. Measurements of angular variables during human interception have suggested three possible strategies: the pursuit strategy, the constant bearing angle strategy, and the constant target-heading strategy. Here, we review previous experimental paradigms and show that some of them do not allow one to distinguish among the three strategies. Based on this analysis, we devised a virtual driving task that allows investigating which of the three strategies best describes human interception. Crucially, we measured participants' steering, head, and gaze directions over time for three different target velocities. Subjects initially aligned head and gaze in the direction of the car's heading. When the target appeared, subjects centered their gaze on the target, pointed their head slightly off the heading direction toward the target, and maintained an approximately constant target-heading angle, whose magnitude varied across participants, while the target's bearing angle continuously changed. With a second condition, in which the target was partially occluded, we investigated several alternative hypotheses about participants' visual strategies. Overall, the results suggest that interceptive steering is best described by the constant target-heading strategy and that gaze and head are coordinated to continuously acquire visual information to achieve successful interception.
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