Visual motion integration by neurons in the middle temporal area of a New World monkey, the marmoset

Selina S. Solomon*, Chris Tailby, Saba Gharaei, Aaron J. Camp, James A. Bourne, Samuel G. Solomon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The middle temporal area (MT/V5) is an anatomically distinct region of primate visual cortex that is specialized for the processing of image motion. It is generally thought that some neurons in area MT are capable of signalling the motion of complex patterns, but this has only been established in the macaque monkey. We made extracellular recordings from single units in area MT of anaesthetized marmosets, a New World monkey. We show through quantitative analyses that some neurons (35 of 185; 19%) are capable of signalling pattern motion ('pattern cells'). Across several dimensions, the visual response of pattern cells in marmosets is indistinguishable from that of pattern cells in macaques. Other neurons respond to the motion of oriented contours in a pattern ('component cells') or show intermediate properties. In addition, we encountered a subset of neurons (22 of 185; 12%) insensitive to sinusoidal gratings but very responsive to plaids and other two-dimensional patterns and otherwise indistinguishable from pattern cells. We compared the response of each cell class to drifting gratings and dot fields. In pattern cells, directional selectivity was similar for gratings and dot fields; in component cells, directional selectivity was weaker for dot fields than gratings. Pattern cells were more likely to have stronger suppressive surrounds, prefer lower spatial frequencies and prefer higher speeds than component cells. We conclude that pattern motion sensitivity is a feature of some neurons in area MT of both New and Old World monkeys, suggesting that this functional property is an important stage in motion analysis and is likely to be conserved in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5741-5758
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physiology
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


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