Affordance Perception and the Visual Control of Locomotion

  • Brett R. Fajen


When people navigate through complex, dynamic environments, they select actions and guide locomotion in ways that take into account not only the environment but also their body dimensions and locomotor capabilities. For example, when stepping off a curb, a pedestrian may need to decide whether to go now ahead of an approaching vehicle or wait until it passes. Similarly, a child playing a game of tag may need to decide whether to go to the left or right around a stationary obstacle to intercept another player. In such situations, the possible actions (i.e., affordances) are partly determined by the person’s body dimensions and locomotor capabilities. From an ecological perspective, the ability to take these factors into account begins with the perception of affordances. The aim of this chapter is to review recent theoretical developments and empirical research on affordance perception and its role in the visual control of locomotion, including basic locomotor tasks such as avoiding stationary and moving obstacles, walking to targets, and selecting routes through complex scenes. The focus will be on studies conducted in virtual environments, which have created new and exciting opportunities to investigate how people perceive affordances, guide locomotion, and adapt to changes in body dimensions and locomotor capabilities.


Locomotion Affordance perception Optic flow Perception Cognition Walking 



Preparation of this chapter was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (1R01EY019317).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive ScienceRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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