Sensory integration of movements and their visual effects is not enhanced by spatial proximity.

Research paper by Nienke B NB Debats, Herbert H Heuer

Indexed on: 23 Oct '18Published on: 23 Oct '18Published in: Journal of vision


Spatial proximity enhances the sensory integration of exafferent position information, likely because it indicates whether the information comes from a single physical source. Does spatial proximity also affect the integration of position information regarding an action (here a hand movement) with that of its visual effect (here a cursor motion), that is, when the sensory information comes from physically distinct objects? In this study, participants made out-and-back hand movements whereby the outward movements were accompanied by corresponding cursor motions on a monitor. Their subsequent judgments of hand or cursor movement endpoints are typically biased toward each other, consistent with an underlying optimal integration mechanism. To study the effect of spatial proximity, we presented the hand and cursor either in orthogonal planes (horizontal and frontal, respectively) or we aligned them in the horizontal plane. We did not find the expected enhanced integration strength in the latter spatial condition. As a secondary question we asked whether spatial transformations required for the position judgments (i.e., horizontal to frontal or vice versa) could be the origin of previously observed suboptimal variances of the integrated hand and cursor position judgments. We found, however, that the suboptimality persisted when spatial transformations were omitted (i.e., with the hand and cursor in the same plane). Our findings thus clearly show that the integration of actions with their visual effects is, at least for cursor control, independent of spatial proximity.