Heading and path percepts from visual flow and eye pursuit signals
Vision Research , Volume 41 - Issue 25-26 p. 3467- 3486
The percept of self-motion through the environment is supported by visual motion signals and eye movement signals. The interaction between these signals by decoupling of the eye movement and the pattern of retinal motion during brief simulated ego-movement on straight or circular trajectories was studied. A new response method enabled subjects to report perceived destination and perceived curvature of their future path simultaneously. Various combinations of simulated gaze rotation in the retinal flow and eye pursuit were investigated. Simulated gaze rotation ranged from consistent and larger than, to opponent and larger than eye pursuit. It was found that the perceived destination shifts non-linearly with the mismatch between simulated gaze rotation and eye pursuit. The non-linearity is also revealed in the perceived tangent heading direction and perceived path curvature, although to different extent in different subjects. For the same retinal flow, eye pursuit that is consistent with the simulated gaze rotation reduces heading error and the perceived path straightens out. In contrast, perceived path and/or heading do not become more curved or more biased in the direction opposite to pursuit when the eye -in-head rotation is opposite to the simulated gaze rotation. These observations point to modulation of the effect of the extra-retinal pursuit signal by the visual evidence for eye rotation. In a second experiment, one presented to a stationary eye the sum of a component of simulated gaze rotation and radial flow. It was found that the bi-circular flow component, that characterizes the change in pattern of flow directions by the gaze rotation, induces a shift of perceived heading without appreciable perceived path curvature. Conversely, the complementary component of simulated gaze rotation (bi-radial flow) evokes a percept of motion on a curved path with a small tangent heading error. It was suggested that bi-circular and bi-radial flow components contribute primarily to percepts of heading and path curvature, respectively.