Multisensory convergence of visual and vestibular signals has been observed within a network of cortical areas involved in representing heading. Vestibular-dominant heading tuning has been found in the macaque parietoinsular vestibular cortex (PIVC) and the adjacent visual posterior sylvian (VPS) area, whereas relatively balanced visual/vestibular tuning was encountered in the ventral intraparietal (VIP) area and visual-dominant tuning was found in the dorsal medial superior temporal (MSTd) area. Although the respective functional roles of these areas remain unclear, perceptual deficits in heading discrimination following reversible chemical inactivation of area MSTd area suggested that areas with vestibular-dominant heading tuning also contribute to behavior. To explore the roles of other areas in heading perception, muscimol injections were used to reversibly inactivate either the PIVC or the VIP area bilaterally in macaques. Inactivation of the anterior PIVC increased psychophysical thresholds when heading judgments were based on either optic flow or vestibular cues, although effects were stronger for vestibular stimuli. All behavioral deficits recovered within 36 h. Visual deficits were larger following inactivation of the posterior portion of the PIVC, likely because these injections encroached upon the VPS area, which contains neurons with optic flow tuning (unlike the PIVC). In contrast, VIP inactivation led to no behavioral deficits, despite the fact that VIP neurons show much stronger choice-related activity than MSTd neurons. These results suggest that the VIP area either provides a parallel and partially redundant pathway for this task, or does not participate in heading discrimination. In contrast, the PIVC/VPS area, along with the MSTd area, make causal contributions to heading perception based on either vestibular or visual signals.
- Heading perception
- Optic flow
- Reversible chemical inactivation
ASJC Scopus subject areas