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J Neurophysiol. 1986 Jun;55(6):1308-27.

Motion selectivity in macaque visual cortex. I. Mechanisms of direction and speed selectivity in extrastriate area MT.

Abstract

Mechanisms of direction selectivity and speed selectivity were studied in single neurons of the middle temporal visual area (MT) of behaving macaque monkeys. Visual stimuli were presented in both smooth and stroboscopic motion within a neuron's receptive field as the monkey fixated a stationary point of light. Direction selectivity, speed selectivity, and the spontaneous discharge characteristics of MT neurons in behaving monkeys were similar to those reported in previous studies in anesthetized monkeys. Stroboscopic motion stimuli were sequences of flashes characterized by the spatial and temporal intervals between each flash. The spatial and temporal intervals were systematically varied so that suppressive and facilitatory interactions could be studied in both the preferred and null directions. Suppression and facilitation were measured by subtracting the peak discharge rate elicited by a single flash from the peak discharge rate elicited by a stroboscopic train of flashes. The dominant mechanism of direction selectivity in MT was a pronounced suppression of discharge for motion in the null direction which we interpreted as inhibition. The inhibition was sufficiently potent to abolish the responses to single flashed stimuli when they were embedded in a series of flashes in the null direction, and it frequently reduced the neuronal discharge to a level below the spontaneous firing rate. Facilitation in the preferred direction was a prominent feature of the responses of some, but not all, MT neurons. The peak discharge rate for stroboscopic motion in the preferred direction was more than twice the peak rate to a single flash for approximately 50% of the neurons in our sample. The direction selectivity of most MT neurons showed the effects of both inhibitory and facilitatory mechanisms, and it was not possible to segregate MT neurons into distinct groups on the basis of these measures. Suppressive mechanisms contributed to speed tuning as well as direction tuning. The low-speed cutoff for motion in the preferred direction resulted from suppression in 82% of the neurons tested. The high-speed cutoff resulted from suppression in 32% of the neurons tested. The latter mechanism appeared to be distinct from the inhibitory mechanism which acted in the null direction in that large spatial intervals were required for its activation.

PMID:
3016210
DOI:
10.1152/jn.1986.55.6.1308
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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