Visual and Vestibular Determinants of Perceived Eye-LevelBoth gravitational and optical sources of stimulation combine to determine the perceived elevations of visual targets. The ways in which these sources of stimulation combine with one another in operational aeronautical environments are critical for pilots to make accurate judgments of the relative altitudes of other aircraft and of their own altitude relative to the terrain. In a recent study, my colleagues and I required eighteen observers to set visual targets at their apparent horizon while they experienced various levels of G(sub z) in the human centrifuge at NASA-Ames Research Center. The targets were viewed in darkness and also against specific background optical arrays that were oriented at various angles with respect to the vertical; target settings were lowered as Gz was increased; this effect was reduced when the background optical array was visible. Also, target settings were displaced in the direction that the background optical array was pitched. Our results were attributed to the combined influences of otolith-oculomotor mechanisms that underlie the elevator illusion and visual-oculomotor mechanisms (optostatic responses) that underlie the perceptual effects of viewing pitched optical arrays that comprise the background. In this paper, I present a mathematical model that describes the independent and combined effects of G(sub z) intensity and the orientation and structure of background optical arrays; the model predicts quantitative deviations from normal accurate perceptions of target localization under a variety of conditions. Our earlier experimental results and the mathematical model are described in some detail, and the effects of viewing specific optical arrays under various gravitational-inertial conditions encountered in aeronautical environments are discussed.
Cohen, Malcolm Martin (NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
August 21, 2013
February 1, 2003
Publication: Spatial Disorientation in Military Vehicles: Causes, Consequences and Cures