Perceiving time to collision activates the sensorimotor cortex
Field, D. T. and Wann, J. P. (2005) Perceiving time to collision activates the sensorimotor cortex. Current Biology, 15 (5). pp. 453-458. ISSN 0960-9822
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.081
The survival of many animals hinges upon their ability to avoid collisions with other animals or objects or to precisely control the timing of collisions. Optical expansion provides a compelling impression of object approach and in principle can provide the basis for judgments of time to collision (TTC) . It has been demonstrated that pigeons  and houseflies  have neural systems that can initiate rapid coordinated actions on the basis of optical expansion. In the case of humans, the linkage between judgments of TTC and coordinated action has not been established at a cortical level. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we identified superior-parietal and motor-cortex areas that are selectively active during perceptual TTC judgments, some of which are normally involved in producing reach-to-grasp responses. These activations could not be attributed to actual movement of participants. We demonstrate that networks involved in the computational problem of extracting TTC from expansion information have close correspondence with the sensorimotor systems that would be involved in preparing a timed motor response, such as catching a ball or avoiding collision.