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The effects of long-term exposure to microgravity and body orientation relative to gravity on perceived traveled distance

  • Self-motion perception is a multi-sensory process that involves visual, vestibular, and other cues. When perception of self-motion is induced using only visual motion, vestibular cues indicate that the body remains stationary, which may bias an observer’s perception. When lowering the precision of the vestibular cue by for example, lying down or by adapting to microgravity, these biases may decrease, accompanied by a decrease in precision. To test this hypothesis, we used a move-to-target task in virtual reality. Astronauts and Earth-based controls were shown a target at a range of simulated distances. After the target disappeared, forward self-motion was induced by optic flow. Participants indicated when they thought they had arrived at the target’s previously seen location. Astronauts completed the task on Earth (supine and sitting upright) prior to space travel, early and late in space, and early and late after landing. Controls completed the experiment on Earth using a similar regime with a supine posture used to simulate being in space. While variability was similar across all conditions, the supine posture led to significantly higher gains (target distance/perceived travel distance) than the sitting posture for the astronauts pre-flight and early post-flight but not late post-flight. No difference was detected between the astronauts’ performance on Earth and onboard the ISS, indicating that judgments of traveled distance were largely unaffected by long-term exposure to microgravity. Overall, this constitutes mixed evidence as to whether non-visual cues to travel distance are integrated with relevant visual cues when self-motion is simulated using optic flow alone.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Björn Jörges, Nils Bury, Meaghan McManus, Ambika Bansal, Robert S. Allison, Michael Jenkin, Laurence R. Harris
Parent Title (English):NPJ microgravity
Article Number:28
Number of pages:8
Publisher:Springer Nature
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg
Date of first publication:2024/03/13
Copyright:© The Author(s) 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Funding:This work was funded by the Canadian Space Agency (15ILSRA1-York) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada grants 46271-2015 and RGPIN-2020-06093 to L.R.H., RGPIN-2022-04556 to M.J. and RGPIN-2020-06061 to R.A. We also thank the CFREF project Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA) for their support.
Keyword:Neuroscience; Psychology
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Informatik
Institute of Visual Computing (IVC)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 006 Spezielle Computerverfahren
Entry in this database:2024/03/21
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International