Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Antonella Pomante (Donders series 411)

3 November 2019

Promotor: prof. dr. P. Medendorp, co-promotor: dr. L. Selen

Models and Mechanisms of Spatial Orientation

When we walk along the street we have a sense of how fast and how far we move, and use this knowledge to guide our navigation. When we stand still, we are able to maintain a stable posture and don’t tumble over. Also, we are readily able to judge the orientation of the surrounding people and objects with respect to ourselves and gravity. All these abilities are captured under the notion of spatial orientation. This sense of spatial orientation seems to occur effortlessy but indeed, it is the result of complex processing of information registered from different sensory organs, including vestibular, visual, and somatosensory systems. I studied how the brain uses all these signals to build a representation of the external world, and of the organism itself with respect to the external environment. This involves understanding how we perceive verticality in several contexts, how this perception can be adapted and how we perceive self-displacement.