Pattern-motion selective responses in MT, MST and the pulvinar of humans


Dr M. Y. Villeneuve, as above.


Plaid stimuli are often used to investigate the mechanisms involved in the integration and segregation of motion information. Considering the perceptual importance of such mechanisms, only a very limited number of visual brain areas have been found to be specifically involved in motion integration. These are the human (h)MT+ complex, area V3 and the pulvinar. The hMT+ complex can be functionally subdivided into two separate areas, middle temporal area (MT) and medial superior temporal area (MST); however, it is currently unclear whether these distinct sub-regions have different responses to plaid stimuli. To address this issue we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to quantify the relative response of MT and MST to component and pattern motion. Participants viewed plaid stimuli that were constrained to result in the perception of either component motion (segregation of motion information) or pattern motion (integration of motion information). MT/MST segregation was achieved using a moving dot stimulus that allowed stimulation of each visual hemifield either in unison or separately. We found pattern motion selective responses in both MT and MST. Consistent with previous reports, activity indicative of pattern motion selectivity was also found in the pulvinar as well as in other extrastriate areas. These results demonstrate that MT, MST and the pulvinar are involved in the complex motion integration mechanisms that are triggered by plaid stimuli. This reinforces the concept that integrative computations take place in a distributed neuronal circuit both in cortical and sub-cortical networks.