Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Laurens Kirkels (Donders series 470)

20 November 2020

Promotor: prof. dr. R. van Wezel
Co-promotor: dr. J. Duijnhouwer

Visual Motion Integration in Mice and Men

Visual motion illusions are frequently used in research into how the visual system works, because here the brain often has to make decisions based on ambiguous information about what we ultimately see. Therefore, visual motion illusions provide us insight into how we perceive things.

In recent decades, the mouse has emerged as an animal model for studies of visual information processing. Mice want to run, it's natural behavior for them, a reflex. We have made use of this reflex in our behavioral research and developed a method to measure running reflexes of mice in response to moving random dot patterns. We projected these patterns on the inside of a dome around the mice such that the motion stimuli covered a large part of the visual field. This evoked compensatory responses of the mice by running in the same direction as the motion stimulus, reflecting their perception. By assessing in which direction mice run on a ball when on visual motion illusions were projected, we were able to see how mice respond to visual motion illusions that we as humans also experience. The results of our studies provide a lot of insight into how visual motion information is processed and show that the mouse and its running reflex are well suited for the study of motion vision.