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Neuron. 2003 Aug 14;39(4):671-80.

End-stopping and the aperture problem: two-dimensional motion signals in macaque V1.

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Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurobiology, 220 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Our perception of fine visual detail relies on small receptive fields at early stages of visual processing. However, small receptive fields tend to confound the orientation and velocity of moving edges, leading to ambiguous or inaccurate motion measurements (the aperture problem). Thus, it is often assumed that neurons in primary visual cortex (V1) carry only ambiguous motion information. Here we show that a subpopulation of V1 neurons is capable of signaling motion direction in a manner that is independent of contour orientation. Specifically, end-stopped V1 neurons obtain accurate motion measurements by responding only to the endpoints of long contours, a strategy which renders them largely immune to the aperture problem. Furthermore, the time course of end-stopping is similar to the time course of motion integration by MT neurons. These results suggest that cortical neurons might represent object motion by responding selectively to two-dimensional discontinuities in the visual scene.

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