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Resolving visual-tactual incongruity depends on sensory reliability


Ernst,  MO
Research Group Multisensory Perception and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

Burge,  J
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

Banks,  MS
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Ernst, M., Burge, J., & Banks, M. (2005). Resolving visual-tactual incongruity depends on sensory reliability. Talk presented at 6th International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF 2005). Trento, Italy.

The visuomotor system recalibrates when visual and motor maps are in conflict, bringing the maps back into correspondence. For recalibration to occur, a conflict has to be detected. Here we investigate the effect of signal reliability on the rate of recalibration. In a first study we showed that the rate of recalibration in a one-dimensional visually guided pointing task depends on the uncertainty of the feedback: faster recalibration with less uncertainty. We further also examined two-dimensional recalibration and how the specific form of visual feedback affects it. Subjects pointed with an unseen hand to a brief visual target. Visual feedback was given indicating where the point landed. We introduced a constant incongruity between pointing (tactual) and feedback (visual) location and examined the changes in pointing as the subject recalibrated. With this task we asked whether differential vertical and horizontal uncertainty in the visual feedback affects recalibration rate differentially, or whether rate is determined by the total uncertainty. We also varied feedback uncertainty in two ways. (1) We blurred the visual feedback, thereby reducing its localizability; in this condition, uncertainty could be determined on-line from one feedback stimulus. (2) We introduced random trial-by-trial perturbations in the feedback; in this condition, uncertainty had to be learned over time. In both cases, the distributions determining the vertical and horizontal uncertainties were 2D Gaussians. Recalibration profiles (changes over time in the point location relative to the visual feedback) changed only in response to changes in localizability. Recalibration was slowest in the direction of greatest uncertainty when uncertainty was due to blur, but rate was unaffected by trial-by-trial variation. This means that subjects do not estimate uncertainty over time in order to adjust reaching. Rather, they adjust trial by trial based mostly on feedback from the previous trial.