Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2015 Aug 12;10(8):e0135539. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135539. eCollection 2015.

Coordinates of Human Visual and Inertial Heading Perception.

Author information

Department of Otolaryngology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America; Department of Bioengineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America; Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States of America.


Heading estimation involves both inertial and visual cues. Inertial motion is sensed by the labyrinth, somatic sensation by the body, and optic flow by the retina. Because the eye and head are mobile these stimuli are sensed relative to different reference frames and it remains unclear if a perception occurs in a common reference frame. Recent neurophysiologic evidence has suggested the reference frames remain separate even at higher levels of processing but has not addressed the resulting perception. Seven human subjects experienced a 2s, 16 cm/s translation and/or a visual stimulus corresponding with this translation. For each condition 72 stimuli (360° in 5° increments) were delivered in random order. After each stimulus the subject identified the perceived heading using a mechanical dial. Some trial blocks included interleaved conditions in which the influence of ±28° of gaze and/or head position were examined. The observations were fit using a two degree-of-freedom population vector decoder (PVD) model which considered the relative sensitivity to lateral motion and coordinate system offset. For visual stimuli gaze shifts caused shifts in perceived head estimates in the direction opposite the gaze shift in all subjects. These perceptual shifts averaged 13 ± 2° for eye only gaze shifts and 17 ± 2° for eye-head gaze shifts. This finding indicates visual headings are biased towards retina coordinates. Similar gaze and head direction shifts prior to inertial headings had no significant influence on heading direction. Thus inertial headings are perceived in body-centered coordinates. Combined visual and inertial stimuli yielded intermediate results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center