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Nature. 2001 Dec 20-27;414(6866):905-8.

Dynamic properties of neurons in cortical area MT in alert and anaesthetized macaque monkeys.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, 220 Lonwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, 02115, USA.


In order to see the world with high spatial acuity, an animal must sample the visual image with many detectors that restrict their analyses to extremely small regions of space. The visual cortex must then integrate the information from these localized receptive fields to obtain a more global picture of the surrounding environment. We studied this process in single neurons within the middle temporal visual area (MT) of macaques using stimuli that produced conflicting local and global information about stimulus motion. Neuronal responses in alert animals initially reflected predominantly the ambiguous local motion features, but gradually converged to an unambiguous global representation. When the same animals were anaesthetized, the integration of local motion signals was markedly impaired even though neuronal responses remained vigorous and directional tuning characteristics were intact. Our results suggest that anaesthesia preferentially affects the visual processing responsible for integrating local signals into a global visual representation.

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