Vestibular responses have been reported in the parietoinsular vestibular cortex (PIVC), the ventral intraparietal area (VIP), and the dorsal medial superior temporal area (MSTd) of macaques. However, differences between areas remain largely unknown, and it is not clear whether there is a hierarchy in cortical vestibular processing. We examine the spatiotemporal characteristics of macaque vestibular responses to translational motion stimuli using both empirical and model-based analyses. Temporal dynamics of direction selectivity were similar across areas, although there was a gradual shift in the time of peak directional tuning, with responses in MSTd typically being delayed by 100-150 ms relative to responses in PIVC (VIP was intermediate). Responses as a function of both stimulus direction and time were fit with a spatiotemporal model consisting of separable spatial and temporal response profiles. Temporal responses were characterized by a Gaussian function of velocity, a weighted sum of velocity and acceleration, or a weighted sum of velocity, acceleration, and position. Velocity and acceleration components contributed most to response dynamics, with a gradual shift from acceleration dominance in PIVC to velocity dominance in MSTd. The position component contributed little to temporal responses overall, but was substantially larger in MSTd than PIVC or VIP. The overall temporal delay in model fits also increased substantially from PIVC to VIP to MSTd. This gradual transformation of temporal responses suggests a hierarchy in cortical vestibular processing, with PIVC being most proximal to the vestibular periphery and MSTd being most distal.
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