Wylie, D. R., Bischof, W. F., and Frost, B. (1998). Common reference frame for neural coding of translational and rotational optic flow. Nature, 392, No. 6673.
Self-motion of an organism through the environment is controlled jointly by information provided by the vestibular system and visual pathways specialized for detecting optic flow. Motion of any object through space, including the self-motion of organisms, can be described with reference to six degrees of freedom: rotation about three orthogonal axes, and translation along those three axes. In this report we describe neurons in the pigeon brain that respond best to optic flow resulting from translation along one of three orthogonal axes. Moreover, we show that these translational optic flow neurons, like rotational optic flow neurons, share a common spatial frame of reference with the semicircular canals of the vestibular system. The three axes of maximal modulation are the vertical axis, and two horizontal axes 45 deg to either side of the body midline.
Back to publications.