Neurons in area MT are sensitive to the direction of motion of gratings and of plaids made by summing 2 gratings moving in different directions. MT component direction-selective (CDS) neurons respond to the individual gratings of a plaid. Pattern direction-selective (PDS) neurons on the other hand, combine component information and respond selectively to the resulting pattern motion. Adding a third grating creates a "triplaid," which contains 3 grating and 3 plaid motions and is perceptually multistable. To examinehowdirectionselective mechanisms parse the motion signals in triplaids, we recordedMTresponses of anesthetized and awake macaques to stimuli in which 3 identical moving gratings whose directions were separated by 120° were introduced in 3 successive epochs, going from grating to plaid to triplaid. CDS and PDS neurons-selected based on their responses to gratings and plaids- had strikingly different tuning properties in the triplaid epoch. CDS neurons were strongly tuned for the direction of motion of individual gratings, but PDS neurons nearly lost their selectivity for either the gratings or the plaids in the stimulus. We explain this reduced motion selectivity with a model that relates pattern selectivity of PDS neurons to a broad pooling of V1 afferents with a near-cosine weighting profile. Because PDS neurons signal both component and pattern motion in gratings and plaids, their reduced selectivity for motion in triplaids may be what makes these stimuli perceptually multistable.
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