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Multi-modal cues underlying the perception of translational motion

Multi-modal cues underlying the perception of translational motion

Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 27(1): 786

Studies of the linear VORs and perception during linear acceleration suggest that otolith information is spectrally parsed, with high frequency afferent information being interpreted as translation and low frequency as tilt. Many studies of translation perception, however, have reported robust perceptions even at low frequencies. One possible explanation is the incorporation of non-otolith information (e.g. vibration and noise) that typically accompanies translation into the perception of motion. In this study we investigated translation perception in humans using a novel stimulus that dissociates non-otolith cues from translational motion. Interaural translation was generated with an apparatus consisting of a linear sled sandwiched between two rotational axes (chair and base). Using sled motion in combination with counterrotation of the chair and base ("R-Theta motion"), pure translation was produced that was dissociated from most non-otolith cues. Sled motion alone accompanied by correlated non-otolith cues was also employed. A joystick was used to report perceptions of translational velocity and direction. During sled-only motion, subjects typically reported near-veridical percepts of motion. During R-Theta motion subjects reported erroneous translation perceptions that were strongly related to the pattern of non-otolith cues as opposed to actual motion. Results suggest that non-otolith cues strongly influence the cognition of linear motion, including the dynamics of translation perception (presumably reflecting high-pass processing of otolith input). One key implication is that "path integration" is not derived from otolith signals alone.

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