It is all me: the effect of viewpoint on visual–vestibular recalibration
Participants performed a visual–vestibular motor recalibration task in virtual reality. The task consisted of keeping the extended arm and hand stable in space during a whole-body rotation induced by a robotic wheelchair. Performance was first quantified in a pre-test in which no visual feedback was available during the rotation. During the subsequent adaptation phase, optical flow resulting from body rotation was provided. This visual feedback was manipulated to create the illusion of a smaller rotational movement than actually occurred, hereby altering the visual–vestibular mapping. The effects of the adaptation phase on hand stabilization performance were measured during a post-test that was identical to the pre-test. Three different groups of subjects were exposed to different perspectives on the visual scene, i.e., first-person, top view, or mirror view. Sensorimotor adaptation occurred for all three viewpoint conditions, performance in the post-test session showing a marked under-compensation relative to the pre-test performance. In other words, all viewpoints gave rise to a remapping between vestibular input and the motor output required to stabilize the arm. Furthermore, the first-person and mirror view adaptation induced a significant decrease in variability of the stabilization performance. Such variability reduction was not observed for the top view adaptation. These results suggest that even if all three viewpoints can evoke substantial adaptation aftereffects, the more naturalistic first-person view and the richer mirror view should be preferred when reducing motor variability constitutes an important issue.