Baurès R, Hecht H, 2011, "The effect of body posture on long-range time-to-contact estimation" Perception 40(6) 674 – 681
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The effect of body posture on long-range time-to-contact estimation
Robin Baurès, Heiko Hecht
Received 28 February 2011, in revised form 9 June 2011; published online 1 August 2011
Abstract. On Earth, gravity accelerates freely moving objects downward, whereas upward-moving objects are being decelerated. Do humans take internalised knowledge of gravity into account when estimating time-to-contact (TTC, the time remaining before the moving object reaches the observer)? To answer this question, we created a motion-prediction task in which participants saw the initial part of an object’s trajectory moving on a collision course prior to an occlusion. Observers had to judge when the object would make contact with them. The visual scene was presented with a head-mounted display. Participants lay either supine (looking up) or prone (looking down), suggestive of the ball either rising up or falling down toward them. Results showed that body posture had a significant effect on time-to-contact estimation, but only when occlusion times were long (2.5 s). The effect was also rather small. This lack of immediacy in the posture effect suggests that TTC estimation is initially robust toward the effect of gravity, which comes to bear only as more time is allowed for post-processing of the visual information.
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