The influence of passive self-motion on spatial perspective taking, and the role of attention

Klaus, Manuel Patrick; Mast, Fred W. (January 2019). The influence of passive self-motion on spatial perspective taking, and the role of attention (Unpublished). In: European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology.

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The influence of passive self-motion on spatial perspective taking, and the role of attention
Introduction: There is increasing evidence that the vestibular system is not only involved in vestibulo-ocular reflexes and postural control but also in higher cognitive processes. A case in point is the ability to adopt a different spatial perspective. This requires an egocentric mental rotation and it has been shown that this process is influenced by vestibular stimulation. Specifically, a passive self-motion stimulus that is directionally congruent to the required egocentric transformation increases the mental rotation speed when compared to incongruent stimuli. To gain further insight into the processes underlying this interaction, the present study investigated the role of attention on the influence of passive self-motion on egocentric mental rotation performance.
Methods: Three experiments were conducted where healthy subjects had to perform egocentric mental rotations while being passively rotated along the yaw axis either to the left or to the right. In Experiment 1, the leftward and rightward physical rotations were applied in a random order. In Experiment 2, the leftward and rightward rotations were applied in separate blocks. In Experiment 3, leftward and rightward rotations with three different velocities were applied in a random order. Additionally, in order to ensure conscious processing of the physical rotations, participants were asked to judge the velocity of the rotation stimulus. Reaction times for mental rotations were analysed for congruent and incongruent conditions using a Bayesian hierarchical regression with an ex-gaussian link function.
Results: There was neither a difference in reaction times between congruent and incongruent stimuli in Experiment 1 (b = 3.97ms, 95% Credible Interval (95%CrI) = [-9.61; 17.82]) nor in Experiment 2 (b = -1.53ms, 95%CrI = [-17.35; 13.79]). In Experiment 3, however, participants were slower for incongruent trials compared to congruent trials (b = 34.5ms, 95%CrI = [9.76; 59.93]).
Discussion: Reaction times in an egocentric mental rotation task were increased for physical rotation stimuli that were incongruent to the direction of the imagined self-motion, but only in the experiment where participants were required to attend to the physical rotation stimulus. When participants were not attending to the physical rotation, there was no difference between the congruent and incongruent condition. Vestibular information influenced spatial perspective taking only when the information had to be processed consciously.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology, Perception and Methodology

UniBE Contributor:

Klaus, Manuel Patrick and Mast, Fred


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Manuel Patrick Klaus

Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2019 14:15

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2021 10:34




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