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Studying vection, an interesting optical illusion, with David Saint-Jacques


Uploaded on May 17, 2019


Studying vection, an interesting optical illusion, with David Saint-Jacques

2019-05-17 - Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques explains how a Canadian experiment is using virtual reality to take a closer look at an optical illusion known as vection. The term “vection” refers to the mistaken feeling of self-movement, triggered by seeing something else moving.

The study, led by researchers from York University's Centre for Vision Research, is examining whether astronauts' perception of their motion and their surroundings is affected by weightlessness. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


David Saint-Jacques: Hi! I’m David Saint-Jacques, Canadian Space Agency astronaut. Welcome aboard the International Space Station!

Have you ever felt like you were moving, even though you were standing still?

This illusion is known as vection, and it can be really confusing.

Imagine experiencing this sensation while orbiting the Earth at 28,000 km an hour!

Now imagine trying to control Canadarm2 at the same time!

During such complex operations, we need to be really sure of the direction and speed of objects around us.

So how exactly does this optical illusion affect astronauts in space?

A Canadian science experiment called Vection is using virtual reality to study how the spaceflight environment changes the way we judge distances, and also how we interpret our own movement, without Earth’s gravity.

With the help of the Canadian Space Agency, Dr. Laurence Harris and his team from York University’s Centre for Vision Research are leading this experiment.

The results will help design safer ways to moving around the Station.

They could also teach us more about disorders that affect movement and posture on Earth, like Parkinson’s disease.

Vection is a great Canadian study tackling an interesting optical illusion – no matter how you look at it!


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