, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 283-288

Role of optical flow field asymmetry in the perception of heading during linear motion


During linear translation through a stationary environment, the pattern of optical flow generated on each retina is symmetrical when the head is aligned with the heading, but during lateral gaze the optical flow is asymmetric. We assessed whether human subjects could use the magnitude of this asymmetry to determine the direction of heading during passive translation through a 3-D environment. When allowed to move their heads in order to look in the direction of self-motion, subjects indicated their heading precisely and accurately. When the head was locked in alignment with the misaligned body, and gaze adjustments were not allowed, responses were quite precise, but showed a large bias which increased with increasing heading angle.

This research was carried out at the Centre for Vision Research at York University and was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.