Publication Details

Gajewski, D. A., Wallin, C. P. & Philbeck, J. W. (2014). Gaze direction and the extraction of egocentric distance. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, 76 (6), 1739-1751.


The angular declination of a target with respect to eye level is known to be an important cue to egocentric distance when objects are viewed or can be assumed to be resting on the ground. When targets are fixated, angular declination and the direction of the gaze with respect to eye level have the same objective value. However, any situation that limits the time available to shift gaze could leave to-be-localized objects outside the fovea, and, in these cases, the objective values would differ. Nevertheless, angular declination and gaze declination are often conflated, and the role for retinal eccentricity in egocentric distance judgments is unknown. We report two experiments demonstrating that gaze declination is sufficient to support judgments of distance, even when extraretinal signals are all that are provided by the stimulus and task environment. Additional experiments showed no accuracy costs for extrafoveally viewed targets and no systematic impact of foveal or peripheral biases, although a drop in precision was observed for the most retinally eccentric targets. The results demonstrate the remarkable utility of target direction, relative to eye level, for judging distance (signaled by angular declination and/or gaze declination) and are consonant with the idea that detection of the target is sufficient to capitalize on the angular declination of floor-level targets (regardless of the direction of gaze).



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