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Journal Of Vision


We investigated the role of global optic flow for visual–motor adaptation of walking direction. In an immersive virtual environment, observers walked to a circular target lying on either a homogeneous ground plane (target-motion condition) or a textured ground plane (ground-flow condition). During adaptation trials, we changed the mapping from physical to visual space to create a conflict between physical and visual heading directions. On these trials, the visual heading specified by optic flow deviated from an observer's physical heading by ±10°. This conflict was not noticed by observers but caused them to walk along curved paths to the target. Over the course of 20 adaptation trials, observers adapted to partially compensate for the conflicts, resulting in straighter paths. When the conflicts were removed post-adaptation, observers showed aftereffects in the opposite direction. The amount of adaptation was similar for target-motion and ground-flow conditions (20–25%), with the ground-flow environment producing slightly faster adaptation and larger aftereffects. We conclude that the visual–motor system can rapidly recalibrate the mapping from physical to visual heading and that this adaptation does not strongly depend on full-field optic flow.


This work is freely available courtesy of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO).

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