Effects of visual stimulus characteristics and individual differences in heading estimation

Ksander N. de Winkel, Max Kurtz, Heinrich H. Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Visual heading estimation is subject to periodic patterns of constant (bias) and variable (noise) error. The nature of the errors, however, appears to differ between studies, showing underestimation in some, but overestimation in others. We investigated whether field of view (FOV), the availability of binocular disparity cues, motion profile, and visual scene layout can account for error characteristics, with a potential mediating effect of vection. Twenty participants (12 females) reported heading and rated vection for visual horizontal motion stimuli with headings ranging the full circle, while we systematically varied the above factors. Overall, the results show constant errors away from the fore-aft axis. Error magnitude was affected by FOV, disparity, and scene layout. Variable errors varied with heading angle, and depended on scene layout. Higher vection ratings were associated with smaller variable errors. Vection ratings depended on FOV, motion profile, and scene layout, with the highest ratings for a large FOV, cosine-bell velocity profile, and a ground plane scene rather than a dot cloud scene. Although the factors did affect error magnitude, differences in its direction were observed only between participants. We show that the observations are consistent with prior beliefs that headings align with the cardinal axes, where the attraction of each axis is an idiosyncratic property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors.


  • Bayesian
  • Bias
  • Error
  • Estimation
  • Heading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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