Tilted frames of reference have similar effects on perception of the gravitational vertical and the planning of vertical saccadic eye movements

Morgan, M. J., Grant, S., Melmoth, D. R. & Solomon, J. A. (2015). Tilted frames of reference have similar effects on perception of the gravitational vertical and the planning of vertical saccadic eye movements. Experimental Brain Research, 233(7), pp. 2115-2125. doi: 10.1007/s00221-015-4282-0

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Abstract

We investigated the effects of a tilted reference frame (i.e., allocentric visual context) on perception of the gravitational vertical and saccadic eye movements along a planned egocentric vertical path. Participants (n=5) in a darkened room fixated a point in the center of a circle on an LCD display, and decided which of two sequentially presented dots was closer to the unmarked ‘6 o’clock’ position on that circle (i.e., straight down towards their feet). The slope of their perceptual psychometric functions showed that participants were able to locate which dot was nearer the vertical with a precision of 1-2°. For three of the participants, a square frame centered at fixation and tilted (in the roll direction) 5.6° from the vertical caused a strong perceptual bias, manifest as a shift in the psychometric function, in the direction of the traditional ‘rod and frame’ effect, without affecting precision. The other two participants showed negligible or no equivalent biases. The same subjects participated in the saccade version of the task, in which they were instructed to shift their gaze to the 6 o’clock position as soon as the central fixation point disappeared. The participants who showed perceptual biases showed biases of similar magnitude in their saccadic end points, with a strong correlation between perceptual and saccadic biases across all subjects. Tilting of the head 5.6° reduced both perceptual and saccadic biases in all but one observer, who developed a strong saccadic bias. Otherwise, the overall pattern and significant correlations between results remained the same. We conclude that our observers' saccades-to-the-vertical were dominated by perceptual input, which outweighed any gravitational or head-centered input.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Department of Optometry & Visual Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/8321

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