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Spatial updating, or the process of keeping track of the locations of objects relative to one's spatial position while moving, is critical to a variety of navigation tasks. Although updating is likely to occur automatically during sighted walking, walking without vision requires imagined updating of the spatial relationships that change concurrently with movement. In particular, dynamic spatial updating likely underlies accurate performance when blind-walking to previously seen targets, a task commonly-used to assess distance perception (Rieser et al., 1990). Studies of imagined walking suggest that the biomechanical information from locomotion influences the accuracy of spatial updating and blind-walking (Kunz et al., 2009). We further investigated the role of biomechanical information in spatial updating by manipulating the biomechanics of locomotion and the direction of spatial updating during blind-walking. In Experiment 1, participants viewed targets that were positioned directly in front or behind them. Participants were instructed to walk without vision to the targets while spatially updating their positions in the environment as they walked either forward to targets in front of them or backwards to targets behind them. Participants were generally accurate in both forward and backward walking, suggesting that participants spatially update in a manner consistent with their direction of movement, even for backwards locomotion. In Experiment 2, participants viewed targets that were positioned directly in front of them and either walked forward while spatially updating to where they believed the targets were located or matched the distance between them and the target by walking backward without spatially updating. Experiment 3 decoupled the biomechanics of walking and the direction of spatial updating. Participants viewed targets positioned directly in front of them and either walked forward without vision to the targets while spatially updating or walked backward from the targets while spatially updating in a manner consistent with forward walking.
Benjamin R. Kunz
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium poster
Anderson, Natalie L.; Barnas, Adam; Fuentes, Ryan N.; Longacre, Kevin; Lynn, Natalya N.; Peters, Katherine Y.; Schlater, Nicole A.; Schwob, Jeremy T.; and Sitz, Adam D., "Decoupling the Biomechanics of Locomotion and the Direction of Spatial Updating During Blind-walking Tasks" (2012). Stander Symposium Posters. 23.