Visual and non-visual contributions to the perception of object motion during self-motion

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55446. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055446. Epub 2013 Feb 7.


Many locomotor tasks involve interactions with moving objects. When observer (i.e., self-)motion is accompanied by object motion, the optic flow field includes a component due to self-motion and a component due to object motion. For moving observers to perceive the movement of other objects relative to the stationary environment, the visual system could recover the object-motion component - that is, it could factor out the influence of self-motion. In principle, this could be achieved using visual self-motion information, non-visual self-motion information, or a combination of both. In this study, we report evidence that visual information about the speed (experiment 1) and direction (experiment 2) of self-motion plays a role in recovering the object-motion component even when non-visual self-motion information is also available. However, the magnitude of the effect was less than one would expect if subjects relied entirely on visual self-motion information. Taken together with previous studies, we conclude that when self-motion is real and actively generated, both visual and non-visual self-motion information contribute to the perception of object motion. We also consider the possible role of this process in visually guided interception and avoidance of moving objects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion*
  • Visual Perception*
  • Young Adult