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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jan;95(1):546-51. Epub 2005 Sep 28.

Quantitative reassessment of speed tuning in the accessory optic system and pretectum of pigeons.

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Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E9, Canada.


The correlation model of motion detection has been used to describe visual motion processing in the pretectum and accessory optic system (AOS). One feature of correlation detectors is that they are tuned to a particular temporal frequency (TF) independent of the spatial frequency (SF) but not to a particular stimulus speed (speed = TF/SF). Previous work has suggested that a subset of neurons in the AOS and pretectum of pigeons show apparent speed tuning. However, this study used relatively liberal between-groups statistics to assess speed tuning. From studies of the motion-sensitive neurons in primate cortex, a rigorous within-groups test of speed tuning has been offered. A meta-analysis of the spatiotemporal tuning of units in the AOS and pretectum of pigeons using this within-groups analysis of speed tuning has been performed. We conclude that speed tuning in the AOS and pretectum is rarer than previously estimated, and there is remarkable diversity in the impact of SF on tuning for speed. In total, 18.6% of the units showed significant speed tuning whereas 39.8% showed significant SF/TF independence. However, many cells (41.5%) fell along a continuum between speed tuning and SF/TF independence. This diversity has also been noted in primate cortex and may reflect a general property of motion-sensitive systems.

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