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How Much Gravity Is Needed to Establish the Perceptual Upright?

  • Might the gravity levels found on other planets and on the moon be sufficient to provide an adequate perception of upright for astronauts? Can the amount of gravity required be predicted from the physiological threshold for linear acceleration? The perception of upright is determined not only by gravity but also visual information when available and assumptions about the orientation of the body. Here, we used a human centrifuge to simulate gravity levels from zero to earth gravity along the long-axis of the body and measured observers' perception of upright using the Oriented Character Recognition Test (OCHART) with and without visual cues arranged to indicate a direction of gravity that differed from the body's long axis. This procedure allowed us to assess the relative contribution of the added gravity in determining the perceptual upright. Control experiments off the centrifuge allowed us to measure the relative contributions of normal gravity, vision, and body orientation for each participant. We found that the influence of 1 g in determining the perceptual upright did not depend on whether the acceleration was created by lying on the centrifuge or by normal gravity. The 50% threshold for centrifuge-simulated gravity's ability to influence the perceptual upright was at around 0.15 g, close to the level of moon gravity but much higher than the threshold for detecting linear acceleration along the long axis of the body. This observation may partially explain the instability of moonwalkers but is good news for future missions to Mars.

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Metadaten
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Parent Title (English):PLoS ONE
Volume:9
Issue:9
First Page:e106207
ISSN:1932-6203
URN:urn:nbn:de:hbz:1044-opus-12240
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106207
Pubmed Id:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=25184481
Publisher:Public Library of Science PLoS
Place of publication:San Francisco, Ca
Date of first publication:2014/09/03
Note:
Funding was provided by DLR Space Administration (National Centrifuge Programme) supplemented by NSERC discovery grants held by MJ and LRH.
Note:
© 2014 Harris et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Informatik
Institute of Visual Computing (IVC)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 004 Datenverarbeitung; Informatik
Entry in this database:2015/04/02
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International