Poster F117, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Getting ready for Mars: how the brain perceives new gravitational environments
Maria Gallagher1, Agoston Torok2, Camille Lasbareilles1, Elisa Raffaella Ferrè1; 1Royal Holloway, University of London, 2Hungarian Academy of Sciences
On Earth, we are continually exposed to the force of gravity. Gravity is detected by vision, the vestibular system, proprioception, and viscera. This sensory information is integrated along with prior information to form an internal model of gravity. Understanding whether our internal model of gravity is able to flexibly adapt to new gravitational environments is vital as humans push the boundaries of space exploration. Here we explored whether the internal model of gravity could be applied to a new visually-simulated gravitational environment. Under Earth gravity, observers are more accurate at judging the speed of falling versus rising objects, as they comply with the physical laws of gravity. We investigated whether participants would show the same “gravitational advantage” when they observed objects moving under a visually-simulated Mars gravity environment. Participants were presented with a visual scene in which a ball moved upwards or downwards under Earth (9.81 m/s2) or Mars (3.71 m/s2) gravity. Participants first memorised the speed of the ball moving at a constant speed, then judged whether trials which varied in speed were faster or slower than the memorised speed. Analysis revealed that participants showed the same perceptual advantage for falling stimuli under both Earth and Mars gravity: downwards movement was more accurately detected than upwards movement. Although the internal model of gravity has been built up under Earth gravity, our results suggest that it can quickly adapt to a new gravitational environment.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Multisensory