Development of sensitivity to visual motion in macaque monkeys

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The development of spatial vision is relatively well documented in human and nonhuman primates. However, little is known about the development of sensitivity to motion. We measured the development of sensitivity to direction of motion, and the relationship between motion and contrast sensitivity in macaque monkeys as a function of age. Monkeys (Macaco nemestrina, aged between 10 days and 3 years) discriminated direction of motion in random-dot kinematograms. The youngest monkeys showed directionally selective orienting and the ability to integrate motion signals at large dot displacements and fast speeds. With age, coherence sensitivity improved for all spatial and temporal dot displacements tested. The temporal interval between the dots was far less important than the spatial offset in determining the animals' performance at all but the youngest ages. Motion sensitivity improved well beyond the end of the first postnatal year, when mid-spatial-frequency contrast sensitivity reached asymptote, and continued for at least 3 years. Sensitivity to contrast at high spatial frequencies also continued to develop beyond the end of the first year. We conclude that the development of motion sensitivity depends on mechanisms beyond the low-level filters presumed to limit acuity and contrast sensitivity, and most likely reflects the function of extrastriate visual areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-859
Number of pages9
JournalVisual neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Visual development
  • Visual motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems


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