Mechanisms of Heading Perception in Primate Visual Cortex

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  13 Sep 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5281, pp. 1544-1547
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5281.1544


When we move forward while walking or driving, what we see appears to expand. The center or focus of this expansion tells us our direction of self-motion, or heading, as long as our eyes are still. However, if our eyes move, as when tracking a nearby object on the ground, the retinal image is disrupted and the focus is shifted away from the heading. Neurons in primate dorso-medial superior temporal area responded selectively to an expansion focus in a certain part of the visual field, and this selective region shifted during tracking eye movements in a way that compensated for the retinal focus shift. Therefore, these neurons account for the effect of eye movements on what we see as we travel forward through the world.