Gravity Cues Embedded in the Kinematics of Human Motion Are Detected in Form-from-Motion Areas of the Visual System and in Motor-Related Areas

  • Cignetti Fabien
  • Chabeauti Pierre-Yves
  • Menant Jasmine
  • Anton Jean-Luc
  • Schmitz Christina
  • Vaugoyeau Marianne
  • Assaiante Christine

  • Motor resonance
  • Form-from-motion perception
  • Biological motion
  • Gravity
  • Functional MRI

ART

The present study investigated the cortical areas engaged in the perception of graviceptive information embedded in biological motion (BM). To this end, functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess the cortical areas active during the observation of human movements performed under normogravity and microgravity (parabolic flight). Movements were defined by motion cues alone using point-light displays. We found that gravity modulated the activation of a restricted set of regions of the network subtending BM perception, including form-from-motion areas of the visual system (kinetic occipital region, lingual gyrus, cuneus) and motor-related areas (primary motor and somatosensory cortices). These findings suggest that compliance of observed movements with normal gravity was carried out by mapping them onto the observer's motor system and by extracting their overall form from local motion of the moving light points. We propose that judgment on graviceptive information embedded in BM can be established based on motor resonance and visual familiarity mechanisms and not necessarily by accessing the internal model of gravitational motion stored in the vestibular cortex.