Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
The remembered vanishing location of a moving target has been found to be displaced downward in the direction of gravity (representational gravity) and more so with increasing retention intervals, suggesting that the visual spatial updating recruits an internal model of gravity. Despite being consistently linked with gravity, few inquiries have been made about the role of vestibular information in these trends. Previous experiments with static tilting of observers’ bodies suggest that under conflicting cues between the idiotropic vector and vestibular signals, the dynamic drift in memory is reduced to a constant displacement along the body’s main axis. The present experiment aims to replicate and extend these outcomes while keeping the observers’ bodies unchanged in relation to physical gravity by varying the gravito-inertial acceleration using a short-radius centrifuge. Observers were shown, while accelerated to varying degrees, targets moving along several directions and were required to indicate the perceived vanishing location after a variable interval. Increases of the gravito-inertial force (up to 1.4G), orthogonal to the idiotropic vector, did not affect the direction of representational gravity, but significantly disrupted its time course. The role and functioning of an internal model of gravity for spatial perception and orientation are discussed in light of the results.