Cortical Correlates of the Simulated Viewpoint Oscillation Advantage for Vection

in Multisensory Research
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Behavioural studies have consistently found stronger vection responses for oscillating, compared to smooth/constant, patterns of radial flow (the simulated viewpoint oscillation advantage for vection). Traditional accounts predict that simulated viewpoint oscillation should impair vection by increasing visual–vestibular conflicts in stationary observers (as this visual oscillation simulates self-accelerations that should strongly stimulate the vestibular apparatus). However, support for increased vestibular activity during accelerating vection has been mixed in the brain imaging literature. This fMRI study examined BOLD activity in visual (cingulate sulcus visual area — CSv; medial temporal complex — MT+; V6; precuneus motion area — PcM) and vestibular regions (parieto-insular vestibular cortex — PIVC/posterior insular cortex — PIC; ventral intraparietal region — VIP) when stationary observers were exposed to vection-inducing optic flow (i.e., globally coherent oscillating and smooth self-motion displays) as well as two suitable control displays. In line with earlier studies in which no vection occurred, CSv and PIVC/PIC both showed significantly increased BOLD activity during oscillating global motion compared to the other motion conditions (although this effect was found for fewer subjects in PIVC/PIC). The increase in BOLD activity in PIVC/PIC during prolonged exposure to the oscillating (compared to smooth) patterns of global optical flow appears consistent with vestibular facilitation.

Cortical Correlates of the Simulated Viewpoint Oscillation Advantage for Vection

in Multisensory Research



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    Schematic representations of the displays used. Top-left image represents the trajectories of the different spherical objects moving past the observer in the smooth global optic flow (Condition #1 — simulates purely forward self-motion). Top-right image represents trajectories of the spheres in the oscillating global optic flow (Condition #2). Bottom-left image represents the segmented and randomly re-ordered version used for the smooth local optic flow condition (Condition #3). Bottom-right image shows the segmented and randomly re-ordered version used for the oscillating local motion condition (Condition #4).

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    Mean vection magnitude estimates averaged across observers in each condition for baseline (blue) and MRI (red) sessions. Error bars indicate standard error of the mean.

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    Mean vection onset latency averaged across observers in each condition during baseline sessions. Error bars indicate standard error of the mean.

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    BOLD activity for the oscillating global > smooth global contrast in CSv for subject 1. The blue outlines indicate an approximation of area CSv in subject 1. Above threshold BOLD activity is represented by the red-yellow colour gradient and ranges from Z=2.3 (red) to 5.8 (yellow).

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    CSv activity for the global motion > local motion contrast for subject 6. The blue outlines indicate an approximation of area CSv in the subject. Above threshold BOLD activity is represented by the red–yellow colour gradient and ranges from Z=2.3 (red) to 4.0 (yellow).

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    PIVC/PIC activity for the oscillating global > smooth global contrast in subject 2. The blue outline represents approximate location of participant’s PIVC/PIC. Above threshold BOLD activity is represented by the red–yellow colour gradient and ranges from Z=2.3 (red) to 3.4 (yellow).


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