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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 1643-3750

Spared Ability to Perceive Direction of Locomotor Heading and Scene-Relative Object Movement Despite Inability to Perceive Relative Motion

Lucia Maria Vaina, Ferdinando Buonanno, Simon K. Rushton

Brain and Vision Research Laboratory, Boston University, Boston, USA

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:1563-1571

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.892199

Available online: 2014-09-03

Published: 2014-09-03


Background: All contemporary models of perception of locomotor heading from optic flow (the characteristic patterns of retinal motion that result from self-movement) begin with relative motion. Therefore it would be expected that an impairment on perception of relative motion should impact on the ability to judge heading and other 3D motion tasks.
Material and Methods: We report two patients with occipital lobe lesions whom we tested on a battery of motion tasks. Patients were impaired on all tests that involved relative motion in plane (motion discontinuity, form from differences in motion direction or speed). Despite this they retained the ability to judge their direction of heading relative to a target. A potential confound is that observers can derive information about heading from scale changes bypassing the need to use optic flow. Therefore we ran further experiments in which we isolated optic flow and scale change.
Results: Patients’ performance was in normal ranges on both tests. The finding that ability to perceive heading can be retained despite an impairment on ability to judge relative motion questions the assumption that heading perception proceeds from initial processing of relative motion. Furthermore, on a collision detection task, SS and SR’s performance was significantly better for simulated forward movement of the observer in the 3D scene, than for the static observer. This suggests that in spite of severe deficits on relative motion in the frontoparlel (xy) plane, information from self-motion helped identification objects moving along an intercept 3D relative motion trajectory.
Conclusions: This result suggests a potential use of a flow parsing strategy to detect in a 3D world the trajectory of moving objects when the observer is moving forward. These results have implications for developing rehabilitation strategies for deficits in visually guided navigation.

Keywords: Adult, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Motion, Motion Perception - physiology, Optic Flow - physiology, Photic Stimulation, Task Performance and Analysis