When watching NASA's historic video footage of the Apollo astronauts on the moon, it becomes clear that the alien lunar gravity was a little troublesome. The moonwalkers would often trip, stumble and wipe out as they explored the dusty landscape.
Now, in a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE today (Sept. 3), researchers suggest that it wasn't just the NASA astronauts' unfamiliarity with the strange lunar environment that knocked them off their feet - it may have been their brains lacking a gravitational reference for which way was "up," possibly causing a loss in perception.
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"The perception of the relative orientation of oneself and the world is important not only to balance, but also for many other aspects of perception including recognizing faces and objects and predicting how objects are going to behave when dropped or thrown," said Laurence Harris of York University, Toronto. "Misinterpreting which way is up can lead to perceptual errors and threaten balance if a person uses an incorrect reference point to stabilize themselves."