The Contributions of Static Visual Cues, Nonvisual Cues, and Optic Flow in Distance Estimation Academic Article uri icon

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  • By systematically varying cue availability in the stimulus and response phases of a series of same-modality and cross-modality distance matching tasks, we examined the contributions of static visual information, idiothetic information, and optic flow information. The experiment was conducted in a large-scale, open, outdoor environment. Subjects were presented with information about a distance and were then required to turn 180° before producing a distance estimate. Distance encoding and responding occurred via: (i) visually perceived target distance, or (ii) traversed distance through either blindfolded locomotion or during sighted locomotion. The results demonstrated that subjects performed with similar accuracy across all conditions. In conditions in which the stimulus and the response were delivered in the same mode, when visual information was absent, constant error was minimal; whereas, when visual information was present, overestimation was observed. In conditions in which the stimulus and response modes differed, a consistent error pattern was observed. By systematically comparing complementary conditions, we found that the availability of visual information during locomotion (particularly optic flow) led to an ‘under-perception’ of movement relative to conditions in which visual information was absent during locomotion.


  • Sun, Hongjin
  • Campos, Jennifer L
  • Young, Meredith
  • Chan, George SW
  • Ellard, Colin G

publication date

  • January 2004