Piloting Systems Reset Path Integration Systems During Position Estimation

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During locomotion, individuals can determine their positions with either idiothetic cues from movement (path integration systems) or visual landmarks (piloting systems). This project investigated how these 2 systems interact in determining humans’ positions. In 2 experiments, participants studied the locations of 5 target objects and 1 single landmark. They walked a path after the targets and the landmark had been removed and then replaced the targets at the end of the path. Participants’ position estimations were calculated based on the replaced targets’ locations (Mou & Zhang, 2014). In Experiment 1, participants walked a 2-leg path. The landmark reappeared in a different location during or after walking the second leg. The results showed that participants’ position estimations followed idiothetic cues in the former case, but the displaced landmark in the latter case. In Experiment 2, participants saw the displaced landmark when they reached the end of the second leg and then walked a third leg without the view of the landmark. Participants were asked or not to point to 1 of the targets before they walked the third leg. The results showed that the initial position of the third leg was still influenced by the displaced landmark in the former case, but was determined by idiothetic cues in the latter case. These results suggest that the path integration system works dynamically and the piloting system resets the path integration system when people judge their positions in the presence of conflicting piloting cues.

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