August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Visual detection while walking: Sensitivity modulates over the gait cycle
Author Affiliations
  • Cameron Phan
    University of Sydney
  • David Alais
    University of Sydney
  • Frans Verstraten
    University of Sydney
  • Matthew Davidson
    University of Sydney
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5881. doi:
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      Cameron Phan, David Alais, Frans Verstraten, Matthew Davidson; Visual detection while walking: Sensitivity modulates over the gait cycle. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5881.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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We investigated visual sensitivity over the gait cycle for stimuli presented at two eccentricities. Participants (n = 33) wore a virtual reality headset and walked along a smooth, level path while making a trigger-pull response to indicate if a briefly flashed visual target was detected. The small ellipsoid target was varied in contrast against a grey background to determine detection thresholds. Thresholds were measured at eccentricities of 4° or 12° from a central fixation cross, and while standing still or walking at natural speed. There were 190 stimuli per condition, presented at various jittered time points along the path. Head position data were used to divide the walking sequence into individual steps so that the data could be pooled into a single densely sampled gait cycle. Performance modulated over the gait cycle with an approximate sinusoidal pattern and fitted Fourier functions for response accuracy and response time revealed a modulation rate of 3.21 Hz for both variables. Accuracy modulated in-phase with gait cycle but was phase-shifted for response time. Overall, contrast thresholds were higher for peripheral targets regardless of motion condition. These results uncover the effect of walking on visual detection ability and its interaction with visual eccentricity. What would its effect be on higher visual abilities? Would other visual phenomena have different interactions?


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