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Neuron. 2000 Jun;26(3):715-24.

Neural correlates of contrast detection at threshold.

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The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Human psychophysical studies have demonstrated that, for stimuli near the threshold of visibility, detection of motion in one direction is unaffected by the superimposition of motion in the opposite direction. To investigate the neural basis for this perceptual phenomenon, we recorded from directionally selective neurons in macaque visual area MT (middle temporal visual area). Contrast thresholds obtained for single gratings moving in a neuron's preferred direction were compared with those obtained for motion presented simultaneously in the neuron's preferred and antipreferred directions. A simple model based on probability summation between neurons tuned to opposite directions could sufficiently account for contrast thresholds revealed psychophysically, suggesting that area MT is likely to provide the neural basis for contrast detection of stimuli modulated in time.

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