Is perception of self-motion speed a necessary condition for intercepting a moving target while walking?

  • Morice Antoine H.P.
  • Wallet Grégory
  • Montagne Gilles

  • Control laws
  • Interception
  • Constant Bearing Angle
  • Modified Required Velocity
  • Virtual reality
  • Global Optic Flow Rate


While it has been shown that the Global Optic Flow Rate (GOFR) is used in the control of self-motion speed, this study examined its relevance in the control of interceptive actions while walking. We asked participants to intercept approaching targets by adjusting their walking speed in a virtual environment, and predicted that the influence of the GOFR depended on their interception strategy. Indeed, unlike the Constant Bearing Angle (CBA), the Modified Required Velocity (MRV) strategy relies on the perception of self-displacement speed. On the other hand, the CBA strategy involves specific speed adjustments depending on the curvature of the target's trajectory, whereas the MRV does not. We hypothesized that one strategy is selected among the two depending on the informational content of the environment. We thus manipulated the curvature and display of the target's trajectory, and the relationship between physical walking speed and the GOFR (through eye height manipulations). Our results showed that when the target trajectory was not displayed, walking speed profiles were affected by curvature manipulations. Otherwise, walking speed profiles were less affected by curvature manipulations and were affected by the GOFR manipulations. Taken together, these results show that the use of the GOFR for intercepting a moving target while walking depends on the informational content of the environment. Finally we discuss the complementary roles of these two perceptual-motor strategies.