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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jan;23(1):241-7. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs021. Epub 2012 Feb 2.

The perceived position of moving objects: transcranial magnetic stimulation of area MT+ reduces the flash-lag effect.

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Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


How does the visual system assign the perceived position of a moving object? This question is surprisingly complex, since sluggish responses of photoreceptors and transmission delays along the visual pathway mean that visual cortex does not have immediate information about a moving object's position. In the flash-lag effect (FLE), a moving object is perceived ahead of an aligned flash. Psychophysical work on this illusion has inspired models for visual localization of moving objects. However, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Here, we investigated the role of neural activity in areas MT+ and V1/V2 in localizing moving objects. Using short trains of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) or single pulses at different time points, we measured the influence of TMS on the perceived location of a moving object. We found that TMS delivered to MT+ significantly reduced the FLE; single pulse timings revealed a broad temporal tuning with maximum effect for TMS pulses, 200 ms after the flash. Stimulation of V1/V2 did not significantly influence perceived position. Our results demonstrate that area MT+ contributes to the perceptual localization of moving objects and is involved in the integration of position information over a long time window.

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