Visual self-motion perception during head turns

Nat Neurosci. 1998 Dec;1(8):732-7. doi: 10.1038/3732.


Extra-retinal information is critical in the interpretation of visual input during self-motion. Turning our eyes and head to track objects displaces the retinal image but does not affect our ability to navigate because we use extra-retinal information to compensate for these displacements. We showed observers animated displays depicting their forward motion through a scene. They perceived the simulated self-motion accurately while smoothly shifting the gaze by turning the head, but not when the same gaze shift was simulated in the display; this indicates that the visual system also uses extra-retinal information during head turns. Additional experiments compared self-motion judgments during active and passive head turns, passive rotations of the body and rotations of the body with head fixed in space. We found that accurate perception during active head turns is mediated by contributions from three extra-retinal cues: vestibular canal stimulation, neck proprioception and an efference copy of the motor command to turn the head.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cues
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Head / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neck / innervation
  • Neck / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Proprioception / physiology
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology
  • Self Concept*
  • Vestibule, Labyrinth / physiology