Research finds a relationship between the development of depth perception and ocular motion functions including smooth pursuit and ocular following response. Infants' reactions to looming stimuli also suggest sensitivity to optic flow information that specifies relative distance. With radial optic flow, an expanding flow field elicits involuntary convergent eye movements while a contracting one elicits involuntary divergent eye movements. This response suggests the visual system is interpreting the radial flow as a change in relative depth. We measured the oculomotor response to radial optic flow in infants aged two to five months. The stimulus comprised a radial optic flow pattern that expanded or contracted across eight 400 ms trials while eye position was monitored with a Tobii X120 eye tracker. A subset of infants also viewed trials of a static version of the stimulus. On average, most infants in each age group demonstrated convergence to the expanding pattern and divergence to the contracting one. Moreover, the difference in gain between the convergence and divergence eye movements was significant. The presence of correct-direction vergence eye movements in response to expansion and contraction provides further evidence that infants are sensitive to information that specifies relative motion in depth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems