A mammalian model of optic-flow utilization in the control of locomotion Academic Article uri icon


  • Gibson (1966, 1979) and Lee (1976) have described the potential usefulness of optic-flow information for the control of locomotion. One variable that might be particularly important for an animal approaching a target is time-to-collision, which Lee argues is most efficiently specified by the tau margin (the inverse of the relative rate of expansion of the target image on the retina). In humans, most empirical studies of optic flow have required perceptual judgements or have examined catching/intercepting behaviours. In animals, most studies have been strictly observational. This is particularly true for mammals, where there has been no experimental work of any kind looking at the control of locomotion. The present experiment demonstrates that the Mongolian gerbil (Meriones unguiculatus) uses time-to-collision information to control deceleration as it runs towards a target. The development of this animal model will aid investigation of the neural circuitry underlying optic flow utilization in motor control.

publication date

  • October 1992