We have previously shown that when traveling on a circular path, observers use the rotation in the retinal velocity field for path curvature estimation and recover their path of forward travel relative to their perceived instantaneous heading (L. Li, & J. C. K. Cheng, 2011). Here, we examined the contribution of reference objects and extra-retinal information about pursuit eye movements to curvilinear path perception. In Experiment 1, the display simulated an observer traveling on a circular path over a textured ground with and without tall posts while looking at a fixed target on the future path, along heading, or along a fixed axis in the world. We found that reference objects did not help path perception. In Experiment 2, extra-retinal signals about pursuit eye movements were introduced in two viewing conditions: one that corresponded to the natural case of traveling on a circular path when the body orientation is aligned with the instantaneous heading and one that corresponded to the unnatural case of traveling when the body orientation is fixed relative to the world. We found that extra-retinal signals support accurate path perception only for the natural case of self-motion when the body orientation is aligned with heading such that pursuit compensation helps stabilize the heading in the body-centric coordinate system.
Bibliographical noteThis study was supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (HKU 7480/10H) to L. Li. We thank Diederick Niehorster for his help with data collection and analyses. We also thank Diederick Niehorster, Marty Banks, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on a previous draft of this article.
- Extra-retinal signals
- Eye movements
- Optic flow
- Path perception