Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effect of Visuomotor Calibration and Uncertainty on the Perception of Peripersonal Space

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Effect of Visuomotor Calibration and Uncertainty on the Perception of Peripersonal Space

Article excerpt

Published online: 12 June 2012

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Abstract Target selection for action depends not only on the egocentric location of objects estimated from retinal and extraretinal variables, but also on the assessment of current action possibilities. In the present study, we investigated the effect of altering sensorimotor anticipation processes on subsequent perceptual estimates of reachability. To do so, we conducted two experiments in which we changed the relation between visual distance and movement amplitude. Experiment 1 showed that iterative visuomotor adaptation to distorted visual feedback (in steps of ±15 mm, up to a total adaptation of ±75 mm) led to a congruent variation of perceived reachable space, although the first introduction of the shifted visual feedback produced a reduction of perceived reachable space whatever the direction of the feedback shift. Experiment 2 showed that increasing uncertainty about visuomotor performances, by providing a visual feedback randomly shifted in depth (±7.5 mm), produced the same reduction of perceived reachable space in the absence of visuomotor adaptation. Taken together, these data suggest that the visual perception of reachable space depends on a motor-related perceptual system, which is affected by both visuomotor recalibration and reliability of the visuomotor system.

Keywords Perception . Visuomotor recalibration .

Reachability . Peripersonal space . Variability

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


The way we perceive our spatial environment in relation to our body and action system is a topic of fundamental importance in everyday life and a widely debated theoretical issue in psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Since Berkeley's famous essay on vision (Berkeley, 1709/1732), theorists of perception from different disciplines have defended the idea that the experience of spatiality may proceed from an interpretation of sensory information through reference to the possibilities of action (e.g., Bergson, 1896/1912; Gibson, 1979; Husserl, 1907/1973; Merleau-Ponty, 1945; Poincaré, 1907/1921). To date, convincing arguments in the empirical sciences have been provided supporting the view that the perception of the external world is under the influence of, or even scaled by, actionspecific constraints (Barsalou, 2008; Fajen, 2005; Gallese, 2007; Witt & Proffitt, 2008), when, for instance, walking through obstacles (Warren & Whang, 1987), climbing stairs or hills (Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999; Warren, 1984), or manually interacting with objects (Carello, Grosofsky, Reichel, Solomon, & Turvey, 1989; Witt, Proffitt, & Epstein, 2004).

With regard to the latter situation, acting toward objects depends on our ability to discriminate the area of space in which objects can be easily reached (the peripersonal space) from the space in which they are beyond our sphere of influence (the extrapersonal space), thus requiring a transfer of the body to accomplish a given action (Cutting & Vishton, 1995; Previc, 1998). In the past, many studies have shown that people are quite accurate in visually delimiting their peripersonal space (e.g., Bootsma, Bakker, van Snippenberg, & Tdlohreg, 1992; Bourgeois & Coello, 2009; Carello et al., 1989; Coello & Iwanow, 2006; Fischer, 2000; Gabbard, Ammar, & Lee, 2006; Rochat & Wraga, 1997), although perceptual estimates of reachability have been found to be influenced by environmental context (Coello & Iwanow, 2006), emotional state (Kennedy, Gläscher, Tyszka, & Adolphs, 2009), and postural constraints (Fischer, 2000; Gabbard, Cordova, & Lee, 2007; Rochat & Wraga 1997), as well as mental or neurological illness (Coello & Delevoye-Turrell, 2007; Delevoye-Turrell, Vienne, & Coello, 2011).

The fact that reachability estimates are influenced by postural constraints has led to the suggestion that peripersonal space is perceived as a function of and in relation to anticipated action possibilities (Coello & Delevoye-Turrell, 2007; Costantini, Ambrosini, Tieri, Sinigaglia, & Committeri, 2010), elaborated from past experiences about the opportunities, effects, and costs of acting in the environment (Fajen, 2005; Previc, 1998; Proffitt, 2006). …

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