In this study, we investigated the role of interactive auditory feedback in modulating the inadvertent forward drift experienced while attempting to walk in place with closed eyes following a few minutes of treadmill walking. Simulations of footstep sounds upon surface materials such as concrete and snow were provided by means of a system composed of headphones and shoes augmented with sensors. In a control condition, participants could hear their actual footstep sounds. Results showed an overall enhancement of the forward drift after treadmill walking independent of the sound perceived, while the strength of the aftereffect, measured as the proportional increase (posttest/pretest) in forward drift, was higher under the influence of snow compared to both concrete and actual sound. In addition, a higher knee angle flexion was found during the snow sound condition both before and after treadmill walking. Behavioral results confirmed those of a perceptual questionnaire, which showed that the snow sound was effective in producing strong pseudo-haptic illusions. Our results provide evidence that the walking in place aftereffect results from a recalibration of haptic, visuo-motor but also sound-motor control systems. Self-motion perception is multimodal.
Experimental Brain Research, 2015, Vol 233, Issue 1, p. 205-214