Body movement influences the structure of multiple forms of ambient energy, including optics and gravito-inertial force. Some researchers have argued that egocentric distance is derived from inferential integration of visual and non-visual stimulation. We suggest that accurate information about egocentric distance exists in perceptual stimulation as higherorder patterns that extend across optics and inertia. We formalize a pattern that specifies the egocentric distance of a stationary object across higher-order relations between optics and inertia. This higher-order parameter is created by self-generated movement of the perceiver in inertial space relative to the illuminated environment. For this reason, we placed minimal restrictions on the exploratory movements of our participants. We asked whether humans can detect and use the information available in this higher-order pattern. Participants judged whether a virtual object was within reach. We manipulated relations between body movement and the ambient structure of optics and inertia. Judgments were precise and accurate when the higher-order optical-inertial parameter was available. When only optic flow was available, judgments were poor. Our results reveal that participants perceived egocentric distance from the higher-order, optical-inertial consequences of their own exploratory activity. Analysis of participants' movement trajectories revealed that selfselected movements were complex, and tended to optimize availability of the optical-inertial pattern that specifies egocentric distance. We argue that accurate information about egocentric distance exists in higher-order patterns of ambient energy, that self-generated movement can generate these higher-order patterns, and that these patterns can be detected and used to support perception of egocentric distance that is precise and accurate.
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Copyright: © 2015 Mantel et al.