Flückiger M, Baumberger B, 1988, "The perception of an optical flow projected on the ground surface" Perception 17(5) 633 – 645
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The perception of an optical flow projected on the ground surface
Michelangelo Flückiger, Bernard Baumberger
Received 20 July 1987, in revised form 27 March 1988
Abstract. In most experiments in which the importance of visual control on postural stability is studied, optical stimuli attached to vertical surfaces are used. Analyses of long-term standing readjustments generally involve back-and-forth movements of a visual scene or its projection on vertical circular screens. In a natural environment, however, visual information is largely available from the ground. The aim of the experiment reported was to assess the effect of a flow pattern simulating an open outdoor setting on motion perception and postural control. Subjects were presented with an optical texture projected onto the ground. Periods of motionless texture alternated with equivalent durations of unidirectional flows. The change of position of the subject's centre of gravity over time was recorded on a force platform. Results show that the direction of body sway corresponded with that of texture motion. Important aftereffects, as shown in linear vection experiments, were also observed. However, the latency of postural responses was much shorter than with prolonged unidirectional flows produced in other locations of the visual environment. The hypothesis of an ecological specificity of the flows perceived on the ground during terrestrial displacements is discussed.
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