Role of gravity-based information on the orientation and localization of the perceived body midline
The present study focused on the influence of gravity-based information on the orientation and localization of the perceived body midline. The orientation was investigated by the rolling adjustment of a rod on the subjects’ Z-axis and the localization by the horizontal adjustment of a visual dot as being straight ahead. Experiment 1 investigated the effect of the dissociation between the Z-axis and the direction of gravity by placing subjects in roll tilt and supine postures. In roll tilt, the perception of the body midline orientation was deviated in the direction of body tilt and the perception of its localization was deviated in the opposite direction. In the supine body orientation, estimates of the Z-axis and straight-ahead remained veridical as when the body was upright. Experiment 2 highlighted the relative importance of the otolithic and tactile information using diffuse pressure stimulation. The estimation of body midline orientation was modified contrarily to the estimation of its localization. Thus, subjects had no absolute representation of their egocentric space. The main hypothesis regarding the dissociation between the orientation and localization of the body midline may be related to a difference in the integration of sensory information. It can be suggested that the horizontal component of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR) contributed to the perceived localization of the body midline, whereas its orientation was mainly influenced by tactile information.
KeywordsBody midline Orientation Localization Tactile cues Otolithic cues
The authors are grateful to the Instrumentation and Technological Research Laboratory of the Center of Research of the Military Health Service for the construction of the experimental device and the technical expertise and assistance.
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