Multi-sensory integration in the estimation of distance traveled

Traversed distance perception involves estimating the extent of self-motion as one travels from one position in space to another. As such, it is a multi-modal experience in which information from both visual flow and non-visual cues (i.e. proprioceptive, efference copy and vestibular cues) jointly specify the magnitude of self-motion. While recent evidence has demonstrated the extent to which each of these cues can be used independently to estimate traversed distance, relatively little is known about how they are integrated when simultaneously present.
 
This experiment required participants to move down an infinitely long virtual hallway and subsequently judge how far they walked.  Participants either experienced the movement using vision alone, non-visual cues alone (walking without vision), or both cues combined.  In the combined condition, the visual and non-visual cues were either congruent or in conflict. 
Results demonstrated that both visual and non-visual cues contribute to one’s estimate of traveled distances.  Specifically, the combined cue condition demonstrated results that differed than those observed for either cue alone.  However, when the two cues were placed in conflict, locomotor cues appear to be weighted higher overall.

References

Campos JL Person, Butler JS Person, Mohler BJ Person and Bülthoff HH Person (July-2007) The contributions of visual flow and locomotor cues to walked distance estimation in a virtual environment 4th Symposium on Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization (APGV 2007), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 146.
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Last updated: Tuesday, 07.05.2013