Reading from a Head-Fixed Display during Walking: Adverse Effects of Gaze Stabilization Mechanisms

  • Borg Olivier
  • Casanova Remy
  • Bootsma Reinoud J.

  • FIXATION DISTANCE
  • PERIPHERAL-VISION
  • RETINAL IMAGE
  • EYE-MOVEMENT RESPONSES
  • HUMAN VESTIBULOOCULAR REFLEX
  • VISUAL-VESTIBULAR INTERACTION
  • CONTRAST SENSITIVITY
  • VIEWING DISTANCE
  • SMOOTH-PURSUIT
  • TARGET DISTANCE

ART

Reading performance during standing and walking was assessed for information presented on earth-fixed and head-fixed displays by determining the minimal duration during which a numerical time stimulus needed to be presented for 50% correct naming answers. Reading from the earth-fixed display was comparable during standing and walking, with optimal performance being attained for visual character sizes in the range of 0.2 degrees to 1 degrees. Reading from the head-fixed display was impaired for small (0.2-0.3 degrees) and large (5 degrees) visual character sizes, especially during walking. Analysis of head and eye movements demonstrated that retinal slip was larger during walking than during standing, but remained within the functional acuity range when reading from the earth-fixed display. The detrimental effects on performance of reading from the head-fixed display during walking could be attributed to loss of acuity resulting from large retinal slip. Because walking activated the angular vestibulo-ocular reflex, the resulting compensatory eye movements acted to stabilize gaze on the information presented on the earth-fixed display but destabilized gaze from the information presented on the head-fixed display. We conclude that the gaze stabilization mechanisms that normally allow visual performance to be maintained during physical activity adversely affect reading performance when the information is presented on a display attached to the head.