Visual gravitational motion and the vestibular system in humans

Francesco Lacquaniti, Gianfranco Bosco, Iole Indovina, Barbara La Scaleia, Vincenzo Maffei, Alessandro Moscatelli, Myrka Zago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The visual system is poorly sensitive to arbitrary accelerations, but accurately detects the effects of gravity on a target motion. Here we review behavioral and neuroimaging data about the neural mechanisms for dealing with object motion and egomotion under gravity. The results from several experiments show that the visual estimates of a target motion under gravity depend on the combination of a prior of gravity effects with on-line visual signals on target position and velocity. These estimates are affected by vestibular inputs, and are encoded in a visual-vestibular network whose core regions lie within or around the Sylvian fissure, and are represented by the posterior insula/retroinsula/temporo-parietal junction. This network responds both to target motions coherent with gravity and to vestibular caloric stimulation in human fMRI studies. Transient inactivation of the temporo-parietal junction selectively disrupts the interception of targets accelerated by gravity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
JournalFrontiers in Integrative Neuroscience
Issue number1 DEC
Publication statusPublished - Dec 26 2013


  • Insula
  • Interception
  • Internal model
  • Microgravity
  • Self-motion
  • Temporo-parietal junction
  • Time perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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