Selectivity to Translational Egomotion in Human Brain Motion Areas

Sabrina Pitzalis, Stefano Sdoia, Alessandro Bultrini, Giorgia Committeri, Francesco Di Russo, Patrizia Fattori, Claudio Galletti, Gaspare Galati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The optic flow generated when a person moves through the environment can be locally decomposed into several basic components, including radial, circular, translational and spiral motion. Since their analysis plays an important part in the visual perception and control of locomotion and posture it is likely that some brain regions in the primate dorsal visual pathway are specialized to distinguish among them. The aim of this study is to explore the sensitivity to different types of egomotion-compatible visual stimulations in the human motion-sensitive regions of the brain. Event-related fMRI experiments, 3D motion and wide-field stimulation, functional localizers and brain mapping methods were used to study the sensitivity of six distinct motion areas (V6, MT, MST+, V3A, CSv and an Intra-Parietal Sulcus motion [IPSmot] region) to different types of optic flow stimuli. Results show that only areas V6, MST+ and IPSmot are specialized in distinguishing among the various types of flow patterns, with a high response for the translational flow which was maximum in V6 and IPSmot and less marked in MST+. Given that during egomotion the translational optic flow conveys differential information about the near and far external objects, areas V6 and IPSmot likely process visual egomotion signals to extract information about the relative distance of objects with respect to the observer. Since area V6 is also involved in distinguishing object-motion from self-motion, it could provide information about location in space of moving and static objects during self-motion, particularly in a dynamically unstable environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere60241
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 5 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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