Kinaesthetic and visual perceptions of orientations.

Information, Organisation et Action, EA 4260, UFR STAPS, University of Caen Basse Normandie, 14032 Caen Cedex, France.
Perception (Impact Factor: 1.11). 01/2009; 38(7):988-1001. DOI: 10.1068/p6132
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In the present study we compare the kinaesthetic and visual perception of the vertical and horizontal orientations (subjective vertical and subjective horizontal) to determine whether the perception of cardinal orientations is amodal or modality-specific. The influence of methodological factors on the accuracy of perception is also investigated by varying the stimulus position as a function of its initial tilt (clockwise or counterclockwise) and its angle (22 degrees, 45 degrees, 67 degrees, and 90 degrees) in respect to its physical orientation. Ten participants estimated the vertical and horizontal orientations by repositioning a rod in the kinaesthetic condition or two luminous points, forming a 'virtual line' in the visual condition. Results within the visual modality replicated previous findings by showing that estimation of the physical orientations is very accurate regardless of the initial position of the virtual line. In contrast, the perception of orientation with the kinaesthetic modality was less accurate and systematically influenced by the angle between the initial position of the rod and the required orientation. The findings question the assumption that the subjective vertical is derived from an internal representation of gravity and highlight the necessity of taking into account methodological factors in studies on subjective orientations.

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