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J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 10;31(32):11617-27. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1266-11.2011.

Convergence of vestibular and visual self-motion signals in an area of the posterior sylvian fissure.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Convergence of visual motion information (optic flow) and vestibular signals is important for self-motion perception, and such convergence has been observed in the dorsal medial superior temporal (MSTd) and ventral intraparietal areas. In contrast, the parieto-insular vestibular cortex (PIVC), a cortical vestibular area in the sylvian fissure, is not responsive to optic flow. Here, we explore optic flow and vestibular convergence in the visual posterior sylvian area (VPS) of macaque monkeys. This area is located at the posterior end of the sylvian fissure, is strongly interconnected with PIVC, and receives projections from MSTd. We found robust optic flow and vestibular tuning in more than one-third of VPS cells, with all motion directions being represented uniformly. However, visual and vestibular direction preferences for translation were mostly opposite, unlike in area MSTd where roughly equal proportions of neurons have visual/vestibular heading preferences that are congruent or opposite. Overall, optic flow responses in VPS were weaker than those in MSTd, whereas vestibular responses were stronger in VPS than in MSTd. When visual and vestibular stimuli were presented together, VPS responses were dominated by vestibular signals, in contrast to MSTd, where optic flow tuning typically dominates. These findings suggest that VPS is proximal to MSTd in terms of vestibular processing, but distal to MSTd in terms of optic flow processing. Given the preponderance of neurons with opposite visual/vestibular heading preferences in VPS, this area may not play a major role in multisensory heading perception.

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