Multisensory integration of visual and vestibular signals improves heading discrimination in the presence of a moving object

Kalpana Dokka, Gregory C. Deangelis, Dora Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Humans and animals are fairly accurate in judging their direction of self-motion (i.e., heading) from optic flow when moving through a stationary environment. However, an object moving independently in the world alters the optic flow field and may bias heading perception if the visual system cannot dissociate object motion from self-motion. We investigated whether adding vestibular self-motion signals to optic flow enhances the accuracy of heading judgments in the presence of a moving object. Macaque monkeys were trained to report their heading (leftward or rightward relative to straight-forward) when self-motion was specified by vestibular, visual, or combined visual-vestibular signals, while viewing a display in which an object moved independently in the (virtual) world. The moving object induced significant biases in perceived heading when self-motion was signaled by either visual or vestibular cues alone. However, this bias was greatly reduced when visual and vestibular cues together signaled self-motion. In addition, multisensory heading discrimination thresholds measured in the presence of a moving object were largely consistent with the predictions of an optimal cue integration strategy. These findings demonstrate that multisensory cues facilitate the perceptual dissociation of self-motion and object motion, consistent with computational work that suggests that an appropriate decoding of multisensory visual-vestibular neurons can estimate heading while discounting the effects of object motion. Significance Statement Objects that move independently in the world alter the optic flow field and can induce errors in perceiving the direction of self-motion (heading). We show that adding vestibular (inertial) self-motion signals to optic flow almost completely eliminates the errors in perceived heading induced by an independently moving object. Furthermore, this increased accuracy occurs without a substantial loss in the precision. Our results thus demonstrate that vestibular signals play a critical role in dissociating self-motion from object motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13599-13607
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume35
Issue number40
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 7 2015

Fingerprint

Optic Flow
Cues
Discrimination (Psychology)
Visual Perception
Macaca
Haplorhini
Neurons

Keywords

  • Flow parsing
  • Object motion
  • Optic flow
  • Self-motion
  • Vestibular

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this

Multisensory integration of visual and vestibular signals improves heading discrimination in the presence of a moving object. / Dokka, Kalpana; Deangelis, Gregory C.; Angelaki, Dora.

In: Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 35, No. 40, 07.10.2015, p. 13599-13607.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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