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Proc Biol Sci. 1994 Nov 22;258(1352):109-19.

Optical imaging reveals the functional architecture of neurons processing shape and motion in owl monkey area MT.

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Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


We have used optical imaging based on intrinsic signals to explore the functional architecture of owl monkey area MT, a cortical region thought to be involved primarily in visual motion processing. As predicted by previous single-unit reports, we found cortical maps specific for the direction of moving visual stimuli. However, these direction maps were not distributed uniformly across all of area MT. Within the direction-specific regions, the activation produced by stimuli moving in opposite directions overlapped significantly. We also found that stimuli of differing shapes, moving in the same direction, activated different cortical regions within area MT, indicating that direction of motion is not the only parameter according to which area MT of owl monkey is organized. Indeed, we found clear evidence for a robust organization for orientation in area MT. Across all of MT, orientation preference changes smoothly, except at isolated line- or point-shaped discontinuities. Generally, paired regions of opposing direction preference were encompassed within a single orientation domain. The degree of segregation in the orientation maps was 3-5 times that found in direction maps. These results suggest that area MT, like V1 and V2, has a rich and multidimensional functional organization, and that orientation, a shape variable, is one of these dimensions.

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