Navigation Links
MIT: How you feel the world impacts how you see it

In the classic waterfall illusion, if you stare at the downward motion of a waterfall for some period of time, stationary objects like rocks appear to drift upward. MIT neuroscientists have found that this phenomenon, called motion aftereffect, occurs not only in our visual perception but also in our tactile perception, and that these senses actually influence one another. Put another way, how you feel the world can actually change how you see it and vice versa.

In a paper published in the April 9 online issue of Current Biology, researchers found that people who were exposed to visual motion in a given direction perceived tactile motion in the opposite direction. Conversely, tactile motion in one direction gave rise to the illusion of visual motion in the opposite direction.

"Our discovery suggests that the sensory processing of visual and tactile motion use overlapping neural circuits," explained Christopher Moore of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and senior author of the paper. "The way something looks or feels can be influenced by a stimulus in the other sensory modality."

Volunteers watched visual motion on a computer screen while placing their right index fingertip on a tactile stimulator directly behind the screen. The stimulator consisted of a centimeter-square array composed of 60 pins to deliver precisely controlled vibrations to the fingertips. This stimulator, the only one of its kind in the world, was developed by Qi Wang of Georgia Institute of Technology and Vincent Hayward of Universit Pierre et Marie Curie in France.

To test the effect of visual motion on the subjects' perception of touch, the monitor displayed a pattern of horizontal stripes moving upward or downward for ten seconds. After this visual pattern had disappeared, a single row of horizontal pins simultaneously vibrated the subjects' fingertips. Although the pins delivered a static burst of vibration, all eight subjects perceived that the row of pins was sweeping either upward or downward, in the direction opposite to the movement of the preceding visual pattern.

To test the effect of tactile motion on visual perception, adjacent rows of pins vibrated in rapid succession, creating the sensation of a tactile object sweeping up or down the subjects' fingertips. After 10 seconds of this stimulus, the monitor displayed a static pattern of horizontal stripes. Contrary to the prevailing assumption that vision always trumps touch, subjects perceived the stripes as moving in the opposite direction to the moving tactile stimulus.

[Click here to view demos of the motion stimuli used in this study:]

"Aftereffects were once thought to reflect fatigue in the brain circuits," said Konkle, "but we now know that pools of neurons are continuously coding motion information and recalibrating the brain to its sensory environment. Our neurons are not tired, they are constantly adapting to the world around us."

Recent studies have found that a region of the visual cortex known as MT or V5 long thought to play a major role in the perception of motion may also process tactile motion. Moore's team intends to explore this brain region in future studies to determine whether it contributes to these cross-modal motion aftereffects.

"Neuroscientists study perceptual illusions because they help reveal how the brain gives rise to conscious experience," Moore said. "We don't experience the world through isolated senses, and our data support the emerging view that the brain is organized for cross talk among different sensory modalities."


Contact: Julie Pryor
McGovern Institute for Brain Research

Related biology news :

1. The worlds oldest bacteria
2. When bivalves ruled the world
3. Brains timing linked with timescales of the natural visual world
4. Amid spiralling government interest, worlds top 350 DNA barcode scientists meet in Taipei
5. Smithsonian scientists help lead effort to barcode worlds species
6. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
7. The best both of worlds -- how to have sex and survive
8. NASA celebrates a decade observing climate impacts on health of worlds oceans
9. Amid spiralling government interest, worlds top 350 DNA barcode scientists meet in Taipei
10. Leading experts cite poor health and nutrition as major barrier to education in developing world
11. Researchers examine worlds potential to produce biodiesel
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
MIT: How you feel the world impacts how you see it
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 Research and Markets ( ) ... Sensors - Technology and Patent Infringement Risk Analysis" ... --> Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology ... fingerprint sensor vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% ... devices and of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 ...
(Date:11/20/2015)... Connecticut , November 20, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... CEO, Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on ... interview will air on this weekend on Bloomberg ... Latin America . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Based on its in-depth ... Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global Frost & ... Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company ... to the needs of the market it serves. The ... meets and expands on customer base demands, the overall ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. ... Gorman , President and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will ... Conference in New York . ... visit the website approximately 5 minutes prior to the ... replay of the presentation will be available on the ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... A long-standing ... Aerospace Professionals (OPBAP) has been formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of ... with OPBAP leaders Capt. Karl Minter and Capt. Albert Glenn Tuesday, November 24, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 25, 2015 ... Research Report is a professional and in-depth study ...      (Logo: ) , ... of the industry including definitions, classifications, applications and ... provided for the international markets including development trends, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the third-largest share ... The trend of outsourcing to low-cost locations is ... volume share for the region in the short ... in the CRO industry will improve. ... ), finds that the market earned revenues ...
Breaking Biology Technology: