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Effects of visual blur and contrast on spatial and temporal precision in manual interception
Experimental Brain Research  (IF1.972),  Pub Date : 2021-09-04, DOI: 10.1007/s00221-021-06184-8
Schroeger, Anna, Tolentino-Castro, J. Walter, Raab, Markus, Cañal-Bruland, Rouwen

The visual system is said to be especially sensitive towards spatial but lesser so towards temporal information. To test this, in two experiments, we systematically reduced the acuity and contrast of a visual stimulus and examined the impact on spatial and temporal precision (and accuracy) in a manual interception task. In Experiment 1, we blurred a virtual, to-be-intercepted moving circle (ball). Participants were asked to indicate (i.e., finger tap) on a touchscreen where and when the virtual ball crossed a ground line. As a measure of spatial and temporal accuracy and precision, we analyzed the constant and variable errors, respectively. With increasing blur, the spatial and temporal variable error, as well as the spatial constant error increased, while the temporal constant error decreased. Because in the first experiment, blur was potentially confounded with contrast, in Experiment 2, we re-ran the experiment with one difference: instead of blur, we included five levels of contrast matched to the blur levels. We found no systematic effects of contrast. Our findings confirm that blurring vision decreases spatial precision and accuracy and that the effects were not mediated by concomitant changes in contrast. However, blurring vision also affected temporal precision and accuracy, thereby questioning the generalizability of the theoretical predictions to the applied interception task.