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Retinal Optic Flow During Natural Locomotion - Videos

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posted on 27.01.2022, 20:25 authored by Jonathan MatthisJonathan Matthis, Karl S Muller, Kathryn L Bonnen, Mary M. Hayhoe
Store of the videos associated with the publication titled "Retinal Optic Flow during Natural Locomotion" published in PLoS Computational Biology https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009575

See related dataset at: https://doi.org/10.25452/figshare.plus.17113883

Author Summary
We recorded the full body kinematics and binocular gaze of humans walking through real-world natural environment and estimated visual motion (optic flow) using both computational video analysis and geometric simulation. Contrary to the established theories of the role of optic flow in the control of locomotion, we found that eye-movement-free, head-centric optic flow is highly unstable due to the complex phasic trajectory of the head during natural locomotion, rendering it an unlikely candidate for heading perception. In contrast, retina-centered optic flow consisted of a regular pattern of outflowing motion centered on the fovea. Retinal optic flow contained highly consistent patterns that specified the walker's trajectory relative to the point of fixation, which may provide powerful, retinotopic cues that may be used for the visual control of locomotion in natural environments. This examination of optic flow in real-world contexts suggest a need to re-evaluate existing theories of the role of optic flow in the visual control of action during natural behavior.

Abstract
We examine the structure of the visual motion projected on the retina during natural locomotion in real world environments. Bipedal gait generates a complex, rhythmic pattern of head translation and rotation in space, so without gaze stabilization mechanisms such as the vestibular-ocular-reflex (VOR) a walker's visually specified heading would vary dramatically throughout the gait cycle. The act of fixation on stable points in the environment nulls image motion at the fovea, resulting in stable patterns of outflow on the retinae centered on the point of fixation. These outflowing patterns retain a higher order structure that is informative about the stabilized trajectory of the eye through space. We measure this structure by applying the curl and divergence operations on the retinal flow velocity vector fields and found features that may be valuable for the control of locomotion. In particular, the sign and magnitude of foveal curl in retinal flow specifies the body's trajectory relative to the gaze point, while the point of maximum divergence in the retinal flow field specifies the walker's instantaneous overground velocity/momentum vector in retinotopic coordinates. Assuming that walkers can determine the body position relative to gaze direction, these time-varying retinotopic cues for the body’s momentum could provide a visual control signal for locomotion over complex terrain. In contrast, the temporal variation of the eye-movement-free, head-centered flow fields is large enough to be problematic for use in steering towards a goal. Consideration of optic flow in the context of real-world locomotion therefore suggests a re-evaluation of the role of optic flow in the control of action during natural behavior.

Funding

CPS Training Grant

National Eye Institute

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GAZE AND THE VISUAL CONTROL OF FOOT PLACEMENT WHEN WALKING OVER ROUGH TERRAIN

National Eye Institute

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Vision in Natural Tasks

National Eye Institute

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GAZE AND THE VISUAL CONTROL OF FOOT PLACEMENT WHEN WALKING OVER ROUGH TERRAIN

National Eye Institute

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Research Institution(s)

University of Texas at Austin; Northeastern University

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