Cortical Correlates of the Simulated Viewpoint Oscillation Advantage for Vection
Behavioural studies have consistently found stronger vection responses for oscillating, compared to smooth/constant, patterns of radial flow (the simulated viewpoint oscillation advantage for vection). Traditional accounts predict that simulated viewpoint oscillation should impair vection by increasing visual-vestibular conflicts in stationary observers (as this visual oscillation simulates self-accelerations that should strongly stimulate the vestibular apparatus). However, support for increased vestibular activity during accelerating vection has been mixed in the brain imaging literature. This fMRI study examined BOLD activity in visual (cingulate sulcus visual area - CSv; medial temporal complex - MT+; V6; precuneus motion area - PcM) and vestibular regions (parieto-insular vestibular cortex - PIVC/posterior insular cortex - PIC; ventral intraparietal region - VIP) when stationary observers were exposed to vection-inducing optic flow (i.e., globally coherent oscillating and smooth self-motion displays) as well as two suitable control displays. In line with earlier studies in which no vection occurred, CSv and PIVC/PIC both showed significantly increased BOLD activity during oscillating global motion compared to the other motion conditions (although this effect was found for fewer subjects in PIVC/PIC). The increase in BOLD activity in PIVC/PIC during prolonged exposure to the oscillating (compared to smooth) patterns of global optical flow appears consistent with vestibular facilitation.