Spatial updating during movement in two and three dimensions

Whenever we move through the world, we continuously update our location in relation to objects around us. This “spatial updating” is largely an automatic process, as we are able to effortlessly track objects as we ambulate through the environment. Successful spatial updating requires accurate perception of self-motion, especially when we must localize objects in the absence of visual feedback.
Using an experimental paradigm in which people point continuously to a stationary target, we hope to elucidate the relative importance of the available self-motion cues for spatial updating. Using the Cyberneum’s advanced motion-tracking capabilities, we will monitor people’s arm movements while they move along two-dimensional paths. Ideal pointing behavior has a characteristic trajectory and velocity profile. Any deviations from this ideal will provide evidence of inaccurate spatial updating, without the need to rely on subjective verbal reports. By analyzing pointing behaviors under various levels of sensory impoverishment, including passive movement, treadmill walking, and imagined walking, we hope to better understand the factors that enable us to accurately perceive self-motion in the absence of vision.
During the second phase of the project, we will adapt the Tracking Lab paradigm for use with the KUKA Robot Arm. The six degrees of freedom of the KUKA robot will allow us to transport people along simple and complex trajectories in all three dimensions of Cartesian space. This will facilitate the exploration of spatial updating during three-dimensional translations, something that has been difficult to study in the past.
Last updated: Tuesday, 07.05.2013