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Curr Biol. 2011 Dec 6;21(23):2023-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.10.049. Epub 2011 Dec 5.

Dissociation of neuronal and psychophysical responses to local and global motion.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Most neurons in cortical area MT (V5) are strongly direction selective, and their activity is closely associated with the perception of visual motion. These neurons have large receptive fields built by combining inputs with smaller receptive fields that respond to local motion. Humans integrate motion over large areas and can perceive what has been referred to as global motion. The large size and direction selectivity of MT receptive fields suggests that MT neurons may represent global motion. We have explored this possibility by measuring responses to a stimulus in which the directions of simultaneously presented local and global motion are independently controlled. Surprisingly, MT responses depended only on the local motion and were unaffected by the global motion. Yet, under similar conditions, human observers perceive global motion and are impaired in discriminating local motion. Although local motion perception might depend on MT signals, global motion perception depends on mechanisms qualitatively different from those in MT. Motion perception therefore does not depend on a single cortical area but reflects the action and interaction of multiple brain systems.

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