College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Ocular tracking as a measure of auditory motion perception

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2004

Publication Title

Journal of Physiology

ISSN

0022-3751

Volume

98

Issue/No.

1

Abstract

Motion is a potent sub-modality of vision. Motion cues alone can be used to segment images into figure and ground and break camouflage. Specific patterns of motion support vivid percepts of form, guide locomotion by specifying directional heading and the passage of objects, and in case of an impending collision, the time to impact. Visual motion also drives smooth pursuit eye movements (SPEMs) that serve to stabilize the retinal image of objects in motion. In contrast, the auditory system does not appear to be particularly sensitive to motion. We review the ambiguous status of auditory motion processing from the psychophysical and electrophysiological perspectives. We then report the results of two experiments that use ocular tracking performance as an objective measure of the perception of auditory motion in humans. We examine ocular tracking of auditory motion, visual motion, combined auditory + visual motion and imagined motion in both the frontal plane and in depth. The results demonstrate that ocular tracking of auditory motion is no better than ocular tracking of imagined motion. These results are consistent with the suggestion that, unlike the visual system, the human auditory system is not endowed with low-level motion sensitive elements. We hypothesize however, that auditory information may gain access to a recently described high-level motion processing system that is heavily dependent on 'top-down' influences, including attention.

DOI

10.1016/j.jphysparis.2004.03.010

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