This study examined the role of eccentric gaze dynamics in the generation of visual illusions of self-motion (i.e., vection). In Experiment 1, observers maintained their gaze either upward, downward, leftward, or rightward with respect to the center of a radially expanding optic flow pattern, which simulated forward self-motion in depth through a 3D cloud of objects. Realtime vection strength ratings and changes in horizontal and vertical eye positions were recorded simultaneously. Vection strength was found to increase progressively over the course of each 30-s presentation of radial flow. Eye tracking revealed strong optokinetic responses, consistent with ocular following responses (OFRs). Reported increases in vection strength in all four gaze conditions were typically preceded by reductions in slow-phase eye velocity.
Similar results were found in Experiment 2, where displays simulated self-motion over a ground plane, which provided superior perspective. We conclude in both cases that enhancements of vection strength over time were temporally contingent upon the changing character of OFR while viewing these displays.