Influence of gaze elevation on estimating the possibility of passing under high obstacles during body tilt

  • Bourrelly Aurore
  • Bringoux Lionel
  • Vercher Jean-Louis

  • Reference frames
  • Spatial localization
  • Gaze elevation
  • Egocentric
  • Body orientation
  • Geocentric


We investigated the influence of gaze elevation on judging the possibility of passing under high obstacles during pitch body tilts, while stationary, in absence of allocentric cues. Specifically, we aimed at studying the influence of egocentric references upon geocentric judgements. Seated subjects, orientated at various body orientations, were asked to perceptually estimate the possibility of passing under a projected horizontal line while keeping their gaze on a fixation target and imagining a horizontal body displacement. The results showed a global overestimation of the possibility of passing under the line, and confirmed the influence of body orientation reported by Bringoux et al. (Exp Brain Res 185(4):673-680, 2008). More strikingly, a linear influence of gaze elevation was found on perceptual estimates. Precisely, downward eye elevation yielded increased overestimations, and conversely upward gaze elevation yielded decreased overestimations. Furthermore, body and gaze orientation effects were independent and combined additively to yield a global egocentric influence with a weight of 45 and 54%, respectively. Overall, our data suggest that multiple egocentric references can jointly affect the estimated possibility of passing under high obstacles. These results are discussed in terms of ``interpenetrability'' between geocentric and egocentric reference frames and clearly demonstrate that gaze elevation is involved, as body orientation, in geocentric spatial localization.