Neural Processes Underlying Continuous Representational Perceptual-Motor Transformation: Differences Between Remote Chase and First Person Perspective During Flight Simulation of the RedBull Air Race


Brain regions involved with processing dynamic visuomotor representational transformation are investigated using fMRI. The perceptual-motor task involved flying (or observing) a plane through a simulated Red Bull Air Race course in first person and third person chase perspective. The third person perspective is akin to remote operation of a vehicle. The ability for humans to remotely operate vehicles likely has its roots in neural processes related to imitation in which visuomotor transformation is necessary to interpret the action goals in an egocentric manner suitable for execution. In this experiment for 3rd person perspective the visuomotor transformation is dynamically changing in accordance to the orientation of the plane. It was predicted that 3rd person remote flying, over 1st, would utilize brain regions composing the ‘Mirror Neuron’ system that is thought to be intimately involved with imitation for both execution and observation tasks. Consistent with this prediction differential brain activity was present for 3rd person over 1st person perspectives for both execution and observation tasks in left ventral premotor cortex, right dorsal premotor cortex, and inferior parietal lobule bilaterally (Mirror Neuron System) (Behaviorally: 1st>3rd). These regions additionally showed greater activity for flying (execution) over watching (observation) conditions. Even though visual and motor aspects of the tasks were controlled for, differential activity was also found in brain regions involved with tool use, motion perception, and body perspective including left cerebellum, temporo-occipital regions, lateral occipital cortex, medial temporal region, and extrastriate body area. This experiment successfully demonstrates that a complex perceptual motor real-world task can be utilized to investigate visuomotor processing. This approach (Aviation Cerebral Experimental Sciences ACES) focusing on direct application to lab and field is in contrast to standard methodology in which tasks and conditions are reduced to their simplest forms that are remote from daily life experience.


Example movie 1st person perspective

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Example movie Remote Chase perspective

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Brain imaging


Brain Activity that is present for both Fly 3rd over Fly 1st and Watch 3rd over Watch 1st That is also Greater for Fly 3rd over Watch 3rd (F3-F1) and (W3-W1) and (F3-W3). Activity is present in Mirror Neuron Areas including the Premotor and Parietal Cortex.


Callan, D., Gamez, M., Cassel, D., Terzibas, C., Callan, A., Kawato, M., Sato, M. (2012). Dynamic visuomotor transformation involved with remote flying of a plane utilizes the ‘Mirror Neuron’ system. PLoS One 7(4), 1-14. DOI: 10.1371/pone.0033873

Callan, D., Gamez, M., Hayashi, R., Callan, A., Sato, M., Kawato, M. (2010). Differential brain activity for egocentric and allocentric control of simulated Red Bull Air Race. 16th Annual International Meeting of the Organization of Human Brain Mapping. June. Barcelona, Spain.