Indexed on: 07 Jul '12Published on: 07 Jul '12Published in: PloS one
Predicting the trajectories of moving objects in our surroundings is important for many life scenarios, such as driving, walking, reaching, hunting and combat. We determined human subjects' performance and task-related brain activity in a motion trajectory prediction task. The task required spatial and motion working memory as well as the ability to extrapolate motion information in time to predict future object locations. We showed that the neural circuits associated with motion prediction included frontal, parietal and insular cortex, as well as the thalamus and the visual cortex. Interestingly, deactivation of many of these regions seemed to be more closely related to task performance. The differential activity during motion prediction vs. direct observation was also correlated with task performance. The neural networks involved in our visual motion prediction task are significantly different from those that underlie visual motion memory and imagery. Our results set the stage for the examination of the effects of deficiencies in these networks, such as those caused by aging and mental disorders, on visual motion prediction and its consequences on mobility related daily activities.