The effects of simulated vision impairments on the cone of gaze.


Hecht H, Hörichs J, Sheldon S, Quint J, Bowers A. The effects of simulated vision impairments on the cone of gaze. Atten Percept Psychophys 2015;77(7):2399-408.

Date Published:

2015 Oct


Detecting the gaze direction of others is critical for many social interactions. We explored factors that may make the perception of mutual gaze more difficult, including the degradation of the stimulus and simulated vision impairment. To what extent do these factors affect the complex assessment of mutual gaze? Using an interactive virtual head whose eye direction could be manipulated by the subject, we conducted two experiments to assess the effects of simulated vision impairments on mutual gaze. Healthy subjects had to demarcate the center and the edges of the cone of gaze-that is, the range of gaze directions that are accepted for mutual gaze. When vision was impaired by adding a semitransparent white contrast reduction mask to the display (Exp. 1), judgments became more variable and more influenced by the head direction (indicative of a compensation strategy). When refractive blur was added (Exp. 1), the gaze cone shrank from 12.9° (no blur) to 11.3° (3-diopter lens), which cannot be explained by a low-level process but might reflect a tightening of the criterion for mutual gaze as a response to the increased uncertainty. However, the overall effects of the impairments were relatively modest. Elderly subjects (Exp. 2) produced more variability but did not differ qualitatively from the younger subjects. In the face of artificial vision impairments, compensation mechanisms and criterion changes allow us to perform better in mutual gaze perception than would be predicted by a simple extrapolation from the losses in basic visual acuity and contrast sensitivity.

Last updated on 01/22/2016