Humans maintain a stable representation of the visual world effortlessly, despite constant movements of the eyes, head, and body, across multiple planes. Whereas visual stability in the face of saccadic eye movements has been intensely researched, fewer studies have investigated retinal image transformations induced by head movements, especially in the frontal plane. Unlike head rotations in the horizontal and sagittal planes, tilting the head in the frontal plane is only partially counteracted by torsional eye movements and consequently induces a distortion of the retinal image to which we seem to be completely oblivious. One possible mechanism aiding perceptual stability is an active reconstruction of a spatiotopic map of the visual world, anchored in allocentric coordinates. To explore this possibility, we measured the positional motion aftereffect (PMAE; the apparent change in position after adaptation to motion) with head tilts of ∼42° between adaptation and test (to dissociate retinal from allocentric coordinates). The aftereffect was shown to have both a retinotopic and spatiotopic component. When tested with unpatterned Gaussian blobs rather than sinusoidal grating stimuli, the retinotopic component was greatly reduced, whereas the spatiotopic component remained. The results suggest that perceptual stability may be maintained at least partially through mechanisms involving spatiotopic coding.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Given that spatiotopic coding could play a key role in maintaining visual stability, we look for evidence of spatiotopic coding after retinal image transformations caused by head tilt. To this end, we measure the strength of the positional motion aftereffect (PMAE; previously shown to be largely spatiotopic after saccades) after large head tilts. We find that, as with eye movements, the spatial selectivity of the PMAE has a large spatiotopic component after head rotation.
- head tilt
- spatiotopic coding
- visual stability
- Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society
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