Sensory Evidence Accumulation Using Optic Flow in a Naturalistic Navigation Task

Panos Alefantis, Kaushik Lakshminarasimhan, Eric Avila, Jean Paul Noel, Xaq Pitkow, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sensory evidence accumulation is considered a hallmark of decision-making in noisy environments. Integration of sensory inputs has been traditionally studied using passive stimuli, segregating perception from action. Lessons learned from this approach, however, may not generalize to ethological behaviors like navigation, where there is an active interplay between perception and action. We designed a sensory-based sequential decision task in virtual reality in which humans and monkeys navigated to a memorized location by integrating optic flow generated by their own joystick movements. A major challenge in such closed-loop tasks is that subjects’ actions will determine future sensory input, causing ambiguity about whether they rely on sensory input rather than expectations based solely on a learned model of the dynamics. To test whether subjects integrated optic flow over time, we used three independent experimental manipulations, unpredictable optic flow perturbations, which pushed subjects off their trajectory; gain manipulation of the joystick controller, which changed the consequences of actions; and manipulation of the optic flow density, which changed the information borne by sensory evidence. Our results suggest that both macaques (male) and humans (female/male) relied heavily on optic flow, thereby demonstrating a critical role for sensory evidence accumulation during naturalistic action-perception closed-loop tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5451-5462
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume42
Issue number27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 6 2022

Keywords

  • closed loop
  • naturalistic
  • navigation
  • nonhuman primates
  • sensory accumulation
  • virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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