From: York University
Published April 28, 2017 08:15 AM

Researchers discover safety feature in our perception of self motion

An international research collaboration between York University Faculty of Health Professor Laurence Harris and researchers in Japan has discovered that our perception of self motion has a previously unknown safety feature.

Their discovery involves tactile flow, the tactile stimulation provided as you push through leaves in the undergrowth or rub your hands along a wall, and its predominant role in enhancing our sense of self-motion, overriding the information provided by vision and the balance-and-movement system contained within the inner ear.

“When you move around you have visual information that tells you how you’re moving and when you walk around the information flows past you,” says Harris. “If you’re touching something stationary as you move, such as a wall or the banisters then that information, that tactile information, will also flow over your skin.”

Harris, who is the director of the Centre for Vision Research at York University, was invited to the Tohoku Gakuin University (TKU) in Sendai, Japan. There he collaborated with TKU Professor Kenzo Sakurai and researcher William Beaudot. “It was very unexpected,” says Harris. “Instead of simply combining with other sensory information about the movement in the same way as for example visual and acceleration cues combine, tactile flow actually dominated perceived self-motion.”


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Photo via York University.

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