Perceptual assessment of environmental stability modulates postural sway

Cooper, Natalia, Cant, Iain, White, Mark D ORCID: 0000-0002-8611-9525 and Meyer, Georg F
(2018) Perceptual assessment of environmental stability modulates postural sway. PLOS ONE, 13 (11). e0206218-.

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We actively maintain postural equilibrium in everyday life, and, although we are unaware of the underlying processing, there is increasing evidence for cortical involvement in this postural control. Converging evidence shows that we make appropriate use of 'postural anchors', for example static objects in the environment, to stabilise our posture. Visually evoked postural responses (VEPR) that are caused when we counteract the illusory perception of self-motion in space (vection) are modulated in the presence of postural anchors and therefore provide a convenient behavioural measure. The aim of this study is to evaluate the factors influencing visual appraisal of the suitability of postural anchors. We are specifically interested in the effect of perceived 'reality' in VR the expected 'stability' of visual anchors. To explore the effect of 'reality' we introduced an accommodation-vergence conflict. We show that VEPR are appropriately modulated only when virtual visual 'anchors' are rendered such that vergence and accommodation cues are consistent. In a second experiment we directly test whether cognitive assessment of the likely stability of real perceptual anchors (we contrast a 'teapot on a stand' and a 'helium balloon') affects VEPR. We show that the perceived positional stability of environmental anchors modulate postural responses. Our results confirm previous findings showing that postural sway is modulated by the configuration of the environment and further show that an assessment of the stability and reality of the environment plays an important role in this process. On this basis we propose design guidelines for VR systems, in particular we argue that accommodation-vergence conflicts should be minimised and that high quality motion tracking and rendering are essential for high fidelity VR.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans, Photic Stimulation, Cognition, Motion Perception, Evoked Potentials, Visual, Posture, Motion, Postural Balance, Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena, Vision, Ocular, Virtual Reality
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2018 16:59
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:12
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0206218
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