Feb 27, 2014

Does gravity shape internal representations of space for human 3D perception?

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Matthew MauranoJohn A Stamatoyannopoulos


Human visual 3D perception is flawed by distortions, which are influenced by non-visual factors, such as gravitational vestibular signals. Distinct hypotheses regarding the sensory processing stage at which gravity acts may explain the influence of gravity: 1) a direct effect on the visual system, 2) a shaping of the internal representation of space that is used to interpret sensory signals, or 3) a role in the ability to build multiple, modality-specific, internal depictions of the perceived object. To test these hypotheses, we performed experiments comparing visual versus haptic 3D perception, and the effects of microgravity on these two senses. The results show that visual and haptic perceptual anisotropies reside in body-centered, and not gravity-centered, planes, suggesting an ego-centric encoding of the information for both sensory modalities. Although coplanar, the perceptual distortions of the two sensory modalities are in opposite directions: depth is visually underestimated, but haptically overestimated, with respect to height and width. Interestingly microgravity appears to amplify the 'terrestrial' distortions of both senses. Through computational modeling, we show that these findings are parsimoniously predicted on...Continue Reading

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