2003 volume 32(5) pages 567 – 578
doi:10.1068/p5041

Cite as:
Ellard C G, Shaughnessy S C, 2003, "A comparison of visual and nonvisual sensory inputs to walked distance in a blind-walking task" Perception 32(5) 567 – 578

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A comparison of visual and nonvisual sensory inputs to walked distance in a blind-walking task

Colin G Ellard, Sarah C Shaughnessy

Received 24 July 2002, in revised form 16 October 2002; published online 4 April 2003

Abstract. Two experiments were conducted in order to assess the contribution of locomotor information to estimates of egocentric distance in a walking task. In the first experiment, participants were either shown, or led blind to, a target located at a distance ranging from 4 to 10 m and were then asked to indicate the distance to the target by walking to the location previously occupied by the target. Participants in both the visual and locomotor conditions were very accurate in this task and there was no significant difference between conditions. In the second experiment, a cue-conflict paradigm was used in which, without the knowledge of the participants, the visual and locomotor targets (the targets they were asked to walk to) were at two different distances. Most participants did not notice the conflict, but despite this their responses showed evidence that they had averaged the visual and locomotor inputs to arrive at a walked estimate of distance. Together, these experiments demonstrate that, although they showed poor awareness of their position in space without vision, in some conditions participants were able to use such nonvisual information to arrive at distance estimates as accurate as those given by vision.

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