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Percept Psychophys. 2001 Apr;63(3):541-54.

Reference frames and haptic perception of orientation: body and head tilt effects on the oblique effect.

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University Charles de Gaulle, Villeneuve d'Ascq, France.


The aim of this study was to examine the effect of body and head tilts on the haptic oblique effect. This effect reflects the more accurate processing of vertical and horizontal orientations, relative to oblique orientations. Body or head tilts lead to a mismatch between egocentric and gravitational axes and indicate whether the haptic oblique effect is defined in an egocentric or a gravitational reference frame. The ability to reproduce principal (vertical and horizontal) and oblique orientations was studied in upright and tilted postures. Moreover, by controlling the deviation of the haptic subjective vertical provoked by postural tilt, the possible role of a subjective gravitational reference frame was tested. Results showed that the haptic reproduction of orientations was strongly affected by both the position of the body (Experiment 1) and the position of the head (Experiment 2). In particular, the classical haptic oblique effect observed in the upright posture disappeared in tilted conditions, mainly because of a decrease in the accuracy of the vertical and horizontal settings. The subjective vertical appeared to be the orientation reproduced the most accurately. These results suggest that the haptic oblique effect is not purely gravitationally or egocentrically defined but, rather, depends on a subjective gravitational reference frame that is tilted in a direction opposite to that of the head in tilted postures (Experiment 3).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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