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J Cogn Neurosci. 2003 Oct 1;15(7):991-1001.

FMRI responses to video and point-light displays of moving humans and manipulable objects.

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  • 1National Institute of Mental Health, LBC, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1366, USA.


We used fMRI to study the organization of brain responses to different types of complex visual motion. In a rapid event-related design, subjects viewed video clips of humans performing different whole-body motions, video clips of manmade manipulable objects (tools) moving with their characteristic natural motion, point-light displays of human whole-body motion, and point-light displays of manipulable objects. The lateral temporal cortex showed strong responses to both moving videos and moving point-light displays, supporting the hypothesis that the lateral temporal cortex is the cortical locus for processing complex visual motion. Within the lateral temporal cortex, we observed segregated responses to different types of motion. The superior temporal sulcus (STS) responded strongly to human videos and human point-light displays, while the middle temporal gyrus (MTG) and the inferior temporal sulcus responded strongly to tool videos and tool point-light displays. In the ventral temporal cortex, the lateral fusiform responded more to human videos than to any other stimulus category while the medial fusiform preferred tool videos. The relatively weak responses observed to point-light displays in the ventral temporal cortex suggests that form, color, and texture (present in video but not point-light displays) are the main contributors to ventral temporal activity. In contrast, in the lateral temporal cortex, the MTG responded as strongly to point-light displays as to videos, suggesting that motion is the key determinant of response in the MTG. Whereas the STS responded strongly to point-light displays, it showed an even larger response to video displays, suggesting that the STS integrates form, color, and motion information.

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