Interpretation of a discontinuity in the sense of verticality at large body tilt.
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SourceJournal of Neurophysiology, 91, 5, (2004), pp. 2205-2214
Article / Letter to editor
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Medical Physics and Biophysics
Journal of Neurophysiology
Results of earlier spatial-orientation studies focusing on the sense of verticality have emphasized an intriguing paradox. Despite evidence that nearly veridical signals for gravicentric head orientation and egocentric visual stimulus orientation are available, roll-tilted subjects err in the direction of the long body axis when adjusting a visual line to vertical in darkness (Aubert effect). This has led to the suggestion that a central egocentric bias signal with fixed strength and direction acts to pull the perceived vertical to the subjects' zenith (M-model). In the present study, the subjective visual vertical (SVV) was tested in six human subjects, across the entire 360 degrees range. For comparison, body-tilt estimates from four subjects where collected in a separate series of experiments. For absolute tilts up to approximately 135 degrees, SVV responses showed a gradually increasing Aubert effect that could not be attributed to errors in perceived body tilt but was nicely in line with the M-model. At larger absolute tilts, SVV errors abruptly reversed sign, now showing a pattern concordant with errors in body-tilt estimates but incompatible with the M-model. These results suggest that, in the normal working range, the perception of external space and the perception of body posture are based on different processing of body-tilt signals. Beyond this range, both spatial-orientation tasks seem to rely mainly on a common tilt signal.
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