• cross-modal integration;
  • intermodal processing;
  • middle temporal area;
  • PET;
  • somatosensation


The human middle temporal/V5 complex (hMT/V5) plays a central role in the perception of visual motion. This region is considered a unimodal visual area with little direct involvement of other sensory modalities. The current study uses H215O PET to test whether tactile motion influences the activity of hMT/V5. Regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) within hMT/V5 was estimated in eight subjects in separate tactile motion and visual motion conditions, each contrasted with a resting, control. The tactile motion condition involved a brush stroked proximal-to-distal along the volar forearm and palm, while the subject attended to the stimulus with closed eyes. The visual motion condition consisted of low contrast, grey-scale rings radiating at 15°/s from a central point, upon which the subject was instructed to fixate. The location of hMT/V5 was defined for each subject separately as the local maximum of rCBF change during the visual motion condition (vs. control). The average change in rCBF within spherical regions of interest at each peak revealed significant bilateral activation of hMT/V5 in the tactile motion condition contrasted with a second, independent set of control scans. Additionally, a single subject received a sufficient number of scans to perform a pixel-wise, within-subject analysis. His functional images were coregistered to his anatomical MRI. In this subject, tactile motion produced a significant increase in rCBF that directly overlapped a region activated by visual motion at the posterior continuance of the inferior temporal sulcus, consistent with the known location of hMT/V5. These results suggest involvement of the hMT/V5 complex in tactile motion processing.