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Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2006 Dec;244(12):1555-61.

Influence of the Pulfrich phenomenon on driving performance.

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Laboratory of Experimental Oculography, Kantonsspital, St. Gallen, Switzerland.



The Pulfrich stereoillusion occurs spontaneously in diseases inducing asymmetric visual pathway delays. Its influence on driving performance has never been investigated and was, therefore, assessed using a three-dimensional (3D) computer driving simulation.


A 3D driving scenery of a road with obstacles was visualised on an autostereoscopic 3D display. Seven normal subjects drove at a speed of 6 m/s using a steering wheel and three angles of view of the scenery (0 degrees, 45 degrees to left, and 90 degrees to left) with different interocular delays (25 ms on the right, 25 ms on the left, and no delay). One subject drove the scenery at an angle of 90 degrees without delay and with a delay of 8 ms, 16 ms, and 25 ms on the right and left, respectively, at speeds of 6 m/s, 12 m/s and 18 m/s.


Stereo-illusion only influenced car position if the angle of view was 90 degrees (p<0.05). At this angle, increasing car speeds were associated with larger car displacements (delay on right p<0.001, on left p<0.01) and smaller delays with smaller car displacements (p<0.001).


This study showed that Pulfrich phenomenon has an influence on car position only if the viewing angle is 90 degrees. No influence could be found if the driving direction corresponded to the visual axis of the driver. These findings are in agreement with reports of patients with spontaneous Pulfrich phenomenon who indicate that while driving, distances are only misjudged when looking sideways.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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