Functional connections between optic flow areas and navigationally responsive brain regions during goal-directed navigation


Recent computational models suggest that visual input from optic flow provides information about egocentric (navigator-centered) motion and influences firing patterns in spatially tuned cells during navigation. Computationally, self-motion cues can be extracted from optic flow during navigation. Despite the importance of optic flow to navigation, a functional link between brain regions sensitive to optic flow and brain regions important for navigation has not been established in either humans or animals. Here, we used a beta-series correlation methodology coupled with two fMRI tasks to establish this functional link during goal-directed navigation in humans. Functionally defined optic flow sensitive cortical areas V3A, V6, and hMT+ were used as seed regions. fMRI data was collected during a navigation task in which participants updated position and orientation based on self-motion cues to successfully navigate to an encoded goal location. The results demonstrate that goal-directed navigation requiring updating of position and orientation in the first person perspective involves a cooperative interaction between optic flow sensitive regions V3A, V6, and hMT+ and the hippocampus, retrosplenial cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and medial prefrontal cortex. These functional connections suggest a dynamic interaction between these systems to support goal-directed navigation.



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