Human spatial representations of object locations in a room-sized environment were probed for evidence that the object locations were encoded relative not just to the observer (egocentrically) but also to each other (allocentrically). Participants learned the locations of 4 objects and then were blindfolded and either (a) underwent a succession of 70° and 200° whole-body rotations or (b) were fully disoriented and then underwent a similar sequence of 70° and 200° rotations. After each rotation, participants pointed to the objects without vision. Analyses of the pointing errors suggest that as participants lost orientation, represented object directions generally “drifted” off of their true directions as an ensemble, not in random, unrelated directions. This is interpreted as evidence that object-to-object (allocentric) relationships play a large part in the human spatial updating system. However, there was also some evidence that represented object directions occasionally drifted off of their true directions independently of one another, suggesting a lack of allocentric influence. Implications regarding the interplay of egocentric and allocentric information are considered.
spatial representation; egocentric–allocentric frames of reference; spatial updating
Eight experiments examined the use of representations of self-to-object or object-to-object spatial relations during locomotion. Participants learned geometrically regular or irregular layouts of objects while standing at the edge or in the middle, and then pointed to objects while blindfolded in three conditions: before turning (baseline), after rotating 240 degrees (updating), and after disorientation (disorientation). The internal consistency of pointing in the disorientation condition was equivalent to that in the updating condition when participants learned the regular layout. The internal consistency of pointing was disrupted by disorientation when participants learned the irregular layout. However when participants who learned the regular layout were instructed to use self-to-object spatial relations, the effect of disorientation on pointing consistency appeared. When participants who learned the irregular layout at the periphery of the layout were instructed to use object-to-object spatial relations, the effect of disorientation disappeared. These results suggest that people represent both self-to-object and object-to-object spatial relations, and primarily use object-to-object spatial representation in a regular layout and self-to-object spatial representation in an irregular layout.
self-to-object spatial relations; object-to-object spatial relations; spatial updating; disorientation
Current theories of environmental cognition typically differentiate between an online, transient, and dynamic system of spatial representation and an offline and enduring system of memory representation. Here we present additional evidence for such two-system theories in the context of the disorientation paradigm introduced by Wang and Spelke (2000). Several experiments replicate the finding that disorientation results in a decrease in the precision of people’s estimates of relative directions. In contrast to the typical interpretation of this effect as indicating the primacy of a transient spatial system, our results are generally more consistent with an interpretation of it as indicating a switch from a relatively precise online representation to a relatively coarse enduring one. Further experiments examine the relative precision of transient and enduring representations, and show that switching between them does not require disorientation, but can also be produced by self-rotations as small as 135°.
Spatial representation; spatial memory; egocentric updating; spatial updating; cognitive maps
The influential hypothesis that environmental geometry is critical for spatial orientation has been extensively tested behaviorally, and yet findings have been conflicting. Head direction (HD) cells, the neural correlate of the “sense of direction”, offer a window into the processes underlying directional orientation, and may help clarify the issue. In the present study, HD cells were recorded as rats foraged in enclosures of varying geometry, with or without simultaneous manipulation of landmarks and self-motion cues (path integration). All geometric enclosures had single-order rotational symmetry and thus completely polarized the environment. They also had unique features, such as corners, which could, in principle, act like landmarks. Despite these strongly polarizing geometric cues, HD cells in non-disoriented rats never rotated with these shapes. By contrast, when a cue card (white or grey) was added to one wall, HD cells readily rotated with the enclosure. When path integration was disrupted by disorienting the rat, HD cells now did rotate with the enclosure even without the landmark. Collectively these findings indicate that geometry exerts little or no influence on heading computations in non-disoriented rats, but it can do so in disoriented rats. We suggest that geometric processing is only a weak influence, providing a backup system for heading calculations and being recruited only under conditions of disorientation.
geometry; head direction cells; navigation; orientation; path integration; landmarks
Previous studies have demonstrated large errors (over 30°) in visually perceived exocentric directions (the direction between two objects that are both displaced from the observer’s location; e.g., Philbeck et al., in press). Here, we investigated whether a similar pattern occurs in auditory space. Blindfolded participants either attempted to aim a pointer at auditory targets (an exocentric task) or gave a verbal estimate of the egocentric target azimuth. Targets were located at 20° to 160° azimuth in the right hemispace. For comparison, we also collected pointing and verbal judgments for visual targets. We found that exocentric pointing responses exhibited sizeable undershooting errors, for both auditory and visual targets, that tended to become more strongly negative as azimuth increased (up to −19° for visual targets at 160°). Verbal estimates of the auditory and visual target azimuths, however, showed a dramatically different pattern, with relatively small overestimations of azimuths in the rear hemispace. At least some of the differences between verbal and pointing responses appear to be due to the frames of reference underlying the responses; when participants used the pointer to reproduce the egocentric target azimuth rather than the exocentric target direction relative to the pointer, the pattern of pointing errors more closely resembled that seen in verbal reports. These results show that there are similar distortions in perceiving exocentric directions in visual and auditory space.
manual pointing; auditory space perception; perception / action; perceived direction; spatial cognition
When exposed to a continuous directional discrepancy between movements of a visible hand cursor and the actual hand (visuomotor rotation), subjects adapt their reaching movements so that the cursor is brought to the target. Abrupt removal of the discrepancy after training induces reaching error in the direction opposite to the original discrepancy, which is called an aftereffect. Previous studies have shown that training with gradually increasing visuomotor rotation results in a larger aftereffect than with a suddenly increasing one. Although the aftereffect difference implies a difference in the learning process, it is still unclear whether the learned visuomotor transformations are qualitatively different between the training conditions.
We examined the qualitative changes in the visuomotor transformation after the learning of the sudden and gradual visuomotor rotations. The learning of the sudden rotation led to a significant increase of the reaction time for arm movement initiation and then the reaching error decreased, indicating that the learning is associated with an increase of computational load in motor preparation (planning). In contrast, the learning of the gradual rotation did not change the reaction time but resulted in an increase of the gain of feedback control, suggesting that the online adjustment of the reaching contributes to the learning of the gradual rotation. When the online cursor feedback was eliminated during the learning of the gradual rotation, the reaction time increased, indicating that additional computations are involved in the learning of the gradual rotation.
The results suggest that the change in the motor planning and online feedback adjustment of the movement are involved in the learning of the visuomotor rotation. The contributions of those computations to the learning are flexibly modulated according to the visual environment. Such multiple learning strategies would be required for reaching adaptation within a short training period.
Left hemispheric dominance of language processing and handedness, previously thought to be unique to humans, is currently under debate. To gain an insight into the origin of lateralization in primates, we have studied gray mouse lemurs, suggested to represent the most ancestral primate condition. We explored potential functional asymmetries on the behavioral level by applying a combined handedness and auditory perception task. For testing handedness, we used a forced food-grasping task. For testing auditory perception, we adapted the head turn paradigm, originally established for exploring hemispheric specializations in conspecific sound processing in Old World monkeys, and exposed 38 subjects to control sounds and conspecific communication sounds of positive and negative emotional valence.
The tested mouse lemur population did not show an asymmetry in hand preference or in orientation towards conspecific communication sounds. However, males, but not females, exhibited a significant right ear-left hemisphere bias when exposed to conspecific communication sounds of negative emotional valence. Orientation asymmetries were not related to hand preference.
Our results provide the first evidence for sex-specific asymmetries for conspecific communication sound perception in non-human primates. Furthermore, they suggest that hemispheric dominance for communication sound processing evolved before handedness and independently from each other.
The cerebellum is critically important for error driven adaptive motor learning, as evidenced by the fact that cerebellar patients do not adapt well to sudden predictable perturbations. However, recent work has shown that cerebellar patients adapt much better if the perturbation is gradually introduced. Here we explore physiological mechanisms that underlie this distinction between abrupt and gradual motor adaptation in humans. We used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to evaluate whether neural mechanisms within the cerebellum contribute to either process during a visuomotor reach adaptation. When a visuomotor rotation was introduced abruptly, cerebellar excitability changed early in learning, and approached baseline levels near the end of the adaptation block. However, we observed no modulation of cerebellar excitability when we presented the visuomotor rotation gradually during learning. Similarly, we did not observe cerebellar modulation during trial-by-trial adaptation to random visuomotor displacements or during reaches without perturbations. This suggests that the cerebellum is most active during the early-phases of adaptation when large perturbations are successfully compensated.
Motor Learning; M1; Error; Reaching; Stimulation
Alcohol is known to affect glutamate transmission. However, how chronic alcohol affects the synaptic structure mediating glutamate transmission is unknown. Repeated alcohol exposure in a subject with familial alcoholic history often leads to alcohol addiction. The current study adopts alcohol-preferring rats, which are known to develop high drinking. Two-photon microscopy analysis indicates that chronic alcohol of 14 weeks either, under continuous alcohol (C-Alc) or with repeated deprivation (RD-Alc), causes dysmorphology–– thickened, beaded, and disoriented dendrites that are reminiscent of reactive astrocytes –– in a subpopulation of medium spiny neurons. The density of dendritic spines was found differentially lower in the nucleus accumbens of RD-Alc and C-Alc groups as compared with those of Water groups. Large-sized spines and multiple-headed spines were increased in the RD-Alc group. The NMDA receptor subunit NR1 proteins, as analyzed with western blot, were upregulated in C-Alc, but not in RD-Alc. The upregulated NMDA receptor subunits of NR1 however, are predominantly a splice variant isoform with truncated exon 21, which is required for membrane-bound trafficking or anchoring into a spine synaptic site. These maladaptations may contribute to the transformation of spines. The changes, in density and head-size of spines and the corresponding NMDA receptors, demonstrated an alteration of microcircuitry for glutamate reception. The current study demonstrates for the first time that chronic alcohol exposure causes structural alteration of dendrites and their spines in the key reward brain region in animals that have a genetic background leading to alcohol addiction.
Glutamate; NMDA; Extended amygdala; repeated deprivation; medium spiny neurons; Two-photon laser microscopy; postsynaptic; GABA; addiction; genetics; P rats
A postural vertical (PV) tilted backward has been put forward as a reason explaining the backward disequilibrium often observed in elderly fallers. This raises the question of a possible ageing process of the PV involving a backward tilt of verticality perception increasing with age. We have explored this hypothesis by measuring PV in pitch using the wheel paradigm in 87 healthy subjects aged from 20 to 97 years. The possibility that this physiological ageing accelerated in the second part of life was also analysed. Two indices were calculated: the mean orientation (PV-orient) and the dispersion (PV-uncert). The correlation between age and PV-orient was r = −0.2 (p < 0.05). Added to the fact that PV was twice as shifted backward in the 38 seniors over 50 years (−1.15° ± 1.40°) as in the 49 young adults under 50 years (−0.45° ± 0.97°; t = 2.75, p < 0.01), this indicates the existence of a physiological ageing process on the direction perceived as vertical by the whole body, with a slight backward shift of PV throughout the life span. The correlation between age and PV-uncert was r = 0.35 (p < 0.001) in all subjects and r = 0.59 (p < 0.001) in seniors. This indicates that subjects get less and less accurate in their perception of the postural vertical with age, especially very old subjects who show great uncertainty in determining with their body the direction of the vertical. Taken together, these findings indicate that the internal model of verticality is less robust in elderly people. This may play a part in their postural decline.
Verticality; Postural control; Subjective vertical; Postural vertical; Ageing
We are studying the effectiveness of a semicircular canal prosthesis to improve postural control, perception of spatial orientation, and the VOR in rhesus monkeys with bilateral vestibular hypofunction. Balance is examined by measuring spontaneous sway of the body during quiet stance and postural responses evoked by head turns and rotation of the support surface; perception is measured with a task derived from the subjective visual vertical (SVV) test during static and dynamic rotation in the roll plane; and the angular VOR is measured during rotation about the roll, pitch, and yaw axes. After the normal responses are characterized, bilateral vestibular loss is induced with intratympanic gentamicin, and then multisite stimulating electrodes are chronically implanted into the ampullae of all three canals in one ear. The postural, perceptual, and VOR responses are then characterized in the ablated state, and then bilateral, chronic electrical stimulation is applied to the ampullary nerves using a prosthesis that senses angular head velocity in three-dimensions and uses this information to modulate the rate of current pulses provided by the implanted electrodes. We are currently characterizing two normal monkeys with these paradigms, and vestibular ablation and electrode implantation are planned for the near future. In one prior rhesus monkey tested with this approach, we found that a one-dimensional (posterior canal) prosthesis improved balance during head turns, perceived head orientation during roll tilts, and the VOR in the plane of the instrumented canal. We therefore predict that the more complete information provided by a three-dimensional prosthesis that modulates activity in bilaterally-paired canals will exceed the benefits provided by the one-dimensional, unilateral approach used in our preliminary studies.
Visuomotor rotation tasks have proven to be a powerful tool to study adaptation of the motor system. While adaptation in such tasks is seemingly automatic and incremental, participants may gain knowledge of the perturbation and invoke a compensatory strategy. When provided with an explicit strategy to counteract a rotation, participants are initially very accurate, even without on-line feedback. Surprisingly, with further testing, the angle of their reaching movements drifts in the direction of the strategy, producing an increase in endpoint errors. This drift is attributed to the gradual adaptation of an internal model that operates independently from the strategy, even at the cost of task accuracy. Here we identify constraints that influence this process, allowing us to explore models of the interaction between strategic and implicit changes during visuomotor adaptation. When the adaptation phase was extended, participants eventually modified their strategy to offset the rise in endpoint errors. Moreover, when we removed visual markers that provided external landmarks to support a strategy, the degree of drift was sharply attenuated. These effects are accounted for by a setpoint state-space model in which a strategy is flexibly adjusted to offset performance errors arising from the implicit adaptation of an internal model. More generally, these results suggest that strategic processes may operate in many studies of visuomotor adaptation, with participants arriving at a synergy between a strategic plan and the effects of sensorimotor adaptation.
Motor learning has been modeled as an implicit process in which an error, signaling the difference between the predicted and actual outcome is used to modify a model of the actor-environment interaction. This process is assumed to operate automatically and implicitly. However, people can employ cognitive strategies to improve performance. It has recently been shown that when implicit and explicit processes are put in opposition, the operation of motor learning mechanisms will offset the advantages conferred by a strategy and eventually, performance deteriorates. We present a computational model of the interplay of these processes. A key insight of the model is that implicit and explicit learning mechanisms operate on different error signals. Consistent with previous models of sensorimotor adaptation, implicit learning is driven by an error reflecting the difference between the predicted and actual feedback for that movement. In contrast, explicit learning is driven by an error based on the difference between the feedback and target location of the movement, a signal that directly reflects task performance. Empirically, we demonstrate constraints on these two error signals. Taken together, the modeling and empirical results suggest that the benefits of a cognitive strategy may lie hidden in many motor learning tasks.
In order to gain insight into the nature of human spatial representations, the current study examined how those representations are affected by blind rotation. Evidence was sought on the possibility that whereas certain environmental aspects may be updated independently of one another, other aspects may be grouped (or chunked) together and updated as a unit. Participants learned the locations of an array of objects around them in a room, then were blindfolded and underwent a succession of passive, whole-body rotations. After each rotation, participants pointed to remembered target locations. Targets were located more precisely relative to each other if they were (a) separated by smaller angular distances, (b) contained within the same regularly configured arrangement, or (c) corresponded to parts of a common object. A hypothesis is presented describing the roles played by egocentric and allocentric information within the spatial updating system. Results are interpreted in terms of an existing neural systems model, elaborating the model’s conceptualization of how parietal (egocentric) and medial temporal (allocentric) representations interact.
spatial memory; spatial updating; egocentric; allocentric; chunking
Spatial bias demonstrated in tasks such as line-bisection may stem from perceptual-attentional (PA) “where” and motor-intentional (MI) “aiming” influences. We tested normal participants’ line bisection performance in the presence of an asymmetric visual distracter with a video apparatus designed to dissociate PA from MI bias. An experimenter stood as a distractor to the left or right of a video monitor positioned in either near or far space, where participants viewed lines and a laser point they directed under 1) natural and 2) mirror-reversed conditions. Each trial started with the pointer positioned at either the top left or top right corner of the screen, and alternated thereafter. Data analysis indicated that participants made primarily PA leftward errors in near space, but not in far space. Furthermore, PA, but not MI, bias increased bilaterally in the direction of distraction. In contrast, MI, but not PA, bias was shifted bilaterally in the direction of startside. Results support the conclusion that a primarily PA left sided bias in near space is consistent with right hemisphere spatial attentional dominance. A bottom-up visual distractor specifically affected PA “where” spatial bias while top-down motor cuing influenced MI “aiming” bias.
line bisection; pseudoneglect; attention; perception; motor bias
Organisms move through the world by changing their shape, and here we explore the mapping from shape space to movements in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as it crawls on an agar plate. We characterize the statistics of the trajectories through the correlation functions of the orientation angular velocity, orientation angle and the mean-squared displacement, and we find that the loss of orientational memory has significant contributions from both abrupt, large amplitude turning events and the continuous dynamics between these events. Further, we discover long-time persistence of orientational memory in the intervals between abrupt turns. Building on recent work demonstrating that C. elegans movements are restricted to a low-dimensional shape space, we construct a map from the dynamics in this shape space to the trajectory of the worm along the agar. We use this connection to illustrate that changes in the continuous dynamics reveal subtle differences in movement strategy that occur among mutants defective in two classes of dopamine receptors.
Pigeons were released at two sites of equal distance from the loft, one within a magnetic anomaly, the other in magnetically quiet terrain, and their tracks were recorded with the help of GPS receivers. A comparison of the beginning of the tracks revealed striking differences: within the anomaly, the initial phase lasted longer, and the distance flown was longer, with the pigeons' headings considerably farther from the home direction. During the following departure phase, the birds were well homeward oriented at the magnetically quiet site, whereas they continued to be disoriented within the anomaly. Comparing the tracks in the anomaly with the underlying magnetic contours shows considerable differences between individuals, without a common pattern emerging. The differences in magnetic intensity along the pigeons' path do not differ from a random distribution of intensity differences around the release site, indicating that the magnetic contours do not directly affect the pigeons' routes. Within the anomaly, pigeons take longer until their flights are oriented, but 5 km from the release point, the birds, still within the anomaly, are also significantly oriented in the home direction. These findings support the assumption that magnetically anomalous conditions initially interfere with the pigeons' navigational processes, with birds showing rather individual responses in their attempts to overcome these problems.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00114-011-0802-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Magnetic anomaly; Pigeon navigation; Homing; GPS tracking; Magnetic “map” factors; Point of Decision
Affymetrix microarrays have become a standard experimental platform for studies of mRNA expression profiling. Their success is due, in part, to the multiple oligonucleotide features (probes) against each transcript (probe set). This multiple testing allows for more robust background assessments and gene expression measures, and has permitted the development of many computational methods to translate image data into a single normalized "signal" for mRNA transcript abundance. There are now many probe set algorithms that have been developed, with a gradual movement away from chip-by-chip methods (MAS5), to project-based model-fitting methods (dCHIP, RMA, others). Data interpretation is often profoundly changed by choice of algorithm, with disoriented biologists questioning what the "accurate" interpretation of their experiment is. Here, we summarize the debate concerning probe set algorithms. We provide examples of how changes in mismatch weight, normalizations, and construction of expression ratios each dramatically change data interpretation. All interpretations can be considered as computationally appropriate, but with varying biological credibility. We also illustrate the performance of two new hybrid algorithms (PLIER, GC-RMA) relative to more traditional algorithms (dCHIP, MAS5, Probe Profiler PCA, RMA) using an interactive power analysis tool. PLIER appears superior to other algorithms in avoiding false positives with poorly performing probe sets. Based on our interpretation of the literature, and examples presented here, we suggest that the variability in performance of probe set algorithms is more dependent upon assumptions regarding "background", than on calculations of "signal". We argue that "background" is an enormously complex variable that can only be vaguely quantified, and thus the "best" probe set algorithm will vary from project to project.
Cytological changes in thyroid glands following administration of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), were studied in adult salamanders, Ambystoma tigrinum, Triturus torosus, and Triturus viridescens by electron and light microscopy. Thyroids from untreated salamanders contained large follicles, faintly basophilic colloid, low follicle cells with flattened nuclei, and scant, slightly basophilic cytoplasm. After TSH administration the cell height and nuclear volume increased. Cytoplasmic basophilia was markedly increased and follicle lumina were reduced. In electron micrographs, stacks of ergastoplasmic lamellae appeared near the nucleus occasionally in contact with the nuclear membrane. In more advanced stages of stimulation, lamellar arrays were largely replaced by small disoriented vesicles and larger vacuoles containing colloid-like material. Sections of obliquely oriented ergastoplasmic membranes contained rows of extremely fine particles. Microvilli increased in size and number and Golgi structures became more extensive. Homogeneous osmiophilic droplets increased in size and abundance. Some of the smaller droplets were seen associated with the Golgi zone. Droplets similar in size and density frequently contained closely packed, whorled lamellae. Mitochondria showed no structural changes but occurred in aggregates interposed between the nucleus and highly folded portions of the basal cell membrane.
Three experiments explored whether response mode differences in perspective taking result from different spatial representations or different retrieval processes. Participants learned object locations and then, while blindfolded, pointed to or verbally described object locations from perspectives aligned or misaligned with their facing direction and aligned or misaligned with the learning perspective. Pointing was facilitated from the perspective aligned with the body during testing. Similar facilitation occurred when verbally labeling, but only when conducted in the context of pointing (e.g., after pointing). Without this pointing context, or after third-person strategy instructions, the effect of body alignment was eliminated for verbal responses. Pointing was less responsive to context and strategy. Across all conditions, performance was facilitated for the learning perspective. Taken together, these experiments indicate that response mode differences are due to differences in the retrieval process, which varies with strategy, rather than differences in the organization of the underlying spatial memory.
Although disoriented young children reorient themselves in relation to the shape of the surrounding surface layout, cognitive accounts of this ability vary. The present paper tests three theories of reorientation: a snapshot theory based on visual image-matching computations, an adaptive combination theory proposing that diverse environmental cues to orientation are weighted according to their experienced reliability, and a modular theory centering on encapsulated computations of the shape of the extended surface layout. Seven experiments test these theories by manipulating four properties of objects placed within a cylindrical space: their size, motion, dimensionality, and distance from the space's borders. Their findings support the modular theory and suggest that disoriented search behavior centers on two processes: a reorientation process based on the geometry of the 3D surface layout, and a beacon-guidance process based on the local features of objects and surface markings.
reorientation; spatial navigation; geometry; modularity; image matching; beacon homing
Objective: To apply the lesion method to assess neuroanatomical substrates for judgments of forearm orientation from proprioceptive cues in humans.
Methods: Participants were 15 subjects with chronic unilateral brain lesions and stable behavioural deficits, and 14 neurologically normal controls. Subjects aligned the forearm to earth fixed vertical and trunk fixed anterior-posterior (A-P) axes ("straight ahead"), with the head aligned to the trunk and with head and shoulder orientations varied on each trial.
Results: Most subjects with posterior parietal lobe lesions made larger variable errors than controls in aligning the forearm to the earth fixed vertical axis and the trunk A-P axes, whether the head was held upright or oriented in different positions. Lesion subjects and controls made similar constant errors for aligning the forearm to gravitational vertical. Variable error magnitude correlated positively with greater lesion volume of right and left superior parietal lobules (SPL), but not with lesions in other brain areas. Larger variable errors for aligning the forearm to the trunk fixed A-P axis were also correlated with the volume of SPL lesions, but constant error magnitude correlated with larger volume lesions in premotor areas, inferior parietal lobules, and posterior regions of the superior temporal gyri, but not with SPL lesion volume.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that the right and left superior and inferior parietal lobules, posterior superior temporal gyri, and premotor areas play a role in defining higher level coordinate systems for specifying orientation of the right and left forearm.
The goal of this study was to assess how the axis of head rotation, Listing's law, and eye position influence the axis of eye rotation during brief, rapid head rotations. We specifically asked how the axis of eye rotation during the initial angular vestibuloocular reflex (VOR) changed when the pitch orientation of the head relative to Earth-vertical was varied, but the initial position of the eye in the orbit and the orientation of Listing's plane with respect to the head were fixed. We measured three-dimensional eye and head rotation axes in eight normal humans using the search coil technique during head-and-trunk (whole-body) and head-on-trunk (head-only) “impulses” about an Earth-vertical axis. The head was initially oriented at one of five pitch angles (30° nose down, 15° nose down, 0°, 15° nose up, 30° nose up). The fixation target was always aligned with the nasooccipital axis. Whole-body impulses were passive, unpredictable, manual, rotations with peak-amplitude of ∼20°, peak-velocity of ∼80°/s, and peak-acceleration of ∼1000°/s2. Head-only impulses were also passive, unpredictable, manual, rotations with peak-amplitude of ∼20°, peak-velocity of ∼150°/s, and peak-acceleration of ∼3000°/s2. During whole-body impulses, the axis of eye rotation tilted in the same direction, and by an amount proportional (0.51 ± 0.09), to the starting pitch head orientation (P < 0.05). This proportionality constant decreased slightly to 0.39 ± 0.08 (P < 0.05) during head-only impulses. Using the head-only impulse data, with the head pitched up, we showed that only 50% of the tilt in the axis of eye rotation could be predicted from vectorial summation of the gains (eye velocity/head velocity) obtained for rotations about the pure yaw and roll head axes. Thus, even when the orientation of Listing's plane and eye position in the orbit are fixed, the axis of eye rotation during the VOR reflects a compromise between the requirements of Listing's law and a perfectly compensatory VOR.
vestibuloocular reflex; axis of eye rotation; axis of head rotation; torsion; Listing's law
We performed two experiments to test the hypothesis that the perception of limb orientation depends on inertial eigenvectors (ei) against the alternative hypothesis that it depends on the center of mass vector (CM). Whereas ei constrains the dynamic torques involved in angular rotation, CM constrains the static torque necessary to keep the limb aloft in the gravitational field. Hence, possible effects of ei and CM on kinesthetic judgments must be related to the dynamic and static torques, respectively, involved in moving and positioning a limb. In the first experiment, blindfolded participants matched, with upper arms supported, the orientation of their forearms while the forearms’ ei and CM were manipulated relative to the elbow. The manipulation of the vector CM alone induced a matching bias, as did the combined manipulation of ei and CM, whereas the manipulation of ei alone did not. In the second experiment, participants positioned their unseen and unsupported right arm at an indicated spatial configuration while ei and CM of the right forearm were manipulated as in Experiment 1. As in the first experiment, forearm positioning was affected by the independent manipulation of CM and the combined manipulation of ei and CM, but not by the independent variation of ei. Moreover, none of the manipulations affected upper arm positioning. These results refute the claim that the perception of limb orientation (in the vertical plane) is based on ei and demonstrate, for the first time, the implication of a limb segment’s CM in the perception of its orientation.
Limb position sense; Kinesthesis; Proprioception; Information; Center of mass; Inertial eigenvectors; Gravitational torque
An infant’s ability to process auditory signals presented in rapid succession (i.e. rapid auditory processing abilities [RAP]) has been shown to predict differences in language outcomes in toddlers and preschool children. Early deficits in RAP abilities may serve as a behavioral marker for language-based learning disabilities. The purpose of this study is to determine if performance on infant information processing measures designed to tap RAP and global processing skills differ as a function of family history of specific language impairment (SLI) and/or the particular demand characteristics of the paradigm used. Seventeen 6- to 9-month-old infants from families with a history of specific language impairment (FH+) and 29 control infants (FH−) participated in this study. Infants’ performance on two different RAP paradigms (head-turn procedure [HT] and auditory-visual habituation/recognition memory [AVH/RM]) and on a global processing task (visual habituation/recognition memory [VH/RM]) was assessed at 6 and 9 months. Toddler language and cognitive skills were evaluated at 12 and 16 months. A number of significant group differences were seen: FH+ infants showed significantly poorer discrimination of fast rate stimuli on both RAP tasks, took longer to habituate on both habituation/recognition memory measures, and had lower novelty preference scores on the visual habituation/recognition memory task. Infants’ performance on the two RAP measures provided independent but converging contributions to outcome. Thus, different mechanisms appear to underlie performance on operantly conditioned tasks as compared to habituation/recognition memory paradigms. Further, infant RAP processing abilities predicted to 12- and 16-month language scores above and beyond family history of SLI. The results of this study provide additional support for the validity of infant RAP abilities as a behavioral marker for later language outcome. Finally, this is the first study to use a battery of infant tasks to demonstrate multi-modal processing deficits in infants at risk for SLI.
Various studies on the hand laterality judgment task, using complex sets of stimuli, have shown that the judgments during this task are dependent on bodily constraints. More specific, these studies showed that reaction times are dependent on the participant’s posture or differ for hand pictures rotated away or toward the mid-sagittal plane (i.e., lateral or medial rotation, respectively). These findings point to the use of a cognitive embodied process referred to as motor imagery. We hypothesize that the number of axes of rotation of the displayed stimuli during the task is a critical factor for showing engagement in a mental rotation task, with an increased number of rotational axes leading to a facilitation of motor imagery. To test this hypothesis, we used a hand laterality judgment paradigm in which we manipulated the difficulty of the task via the manipulation of the number of rotational axes of the shown stimuli. Our results showed increased influence of bodily constraints for increasing number of axes of rotation. More specifically, for the stimulus set containing stimuli rotated over a single axis, no influence of biomechanical constraints was present. The stimulus sets containing stimuli rotated over more than one axes of rotation did induce the use of motor imagery, as a clear influence of bodily constraints on the reaction times was found. These findings extend and refine previous findings on motor imagery as our results show that engagement in motor imagery critically depends on the used number of axes of rotation of the stimulus set.
Mental rotation; Motor imagery; Visual imagery; Laterality judgment