Heading tuning in macaque area v6

Reuben H. Fan, Sheng Liu, Gregory C. Deangelis, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cortical areas, such as the dorsal subdivision of the medial superior temporal area (MSTd) and the ventral intraparietal area (VIP), have been shown to integrate visual and vestibular self-motion signals. Area V6 is interconnected with areas MSTd and VIP, allowing for the possibility that V6 also integrates visual and vestibular self-motion cues. An alternative hypothesis in the literature is that V6 does not use these sensory signals to compute heading but instead discounts self-motion signals to represent object motion. However, the responses of V6 neurons to visual and vestibular self-motion cues have never been studied, thus leaving the functional roles of V6 unclear. We used a virtual reality system to examine the 3D heading tuning of macaque V6 neurons in response to optic flow and inertial motion stimuli. We found that the majority of V6 neurons are selective for heading defined by optic flow. However, unlike areas MSTd and VIP, V6 neurons are almost universally unresponsive to inertial motion in the absence of optic flow. We also explored the spatial reference frames of heading signals in V6 by measuring heading tuning for different eye positions, and we found that the visual heading tuning of most V6 cells was eye-centered. Similar to areas MSTd and VIP, the population of V6 neurons was best able to discriminate small variations in heading around forward and backward headings. Our findings support the idea that V6 is involved primarily in processing visual motion signals and does not appear to play a role in visual-vestibular integration for self-motion perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16303-16314
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 16 2015


  • Heading
  • Macaque
  • Reference frame
  • Self-motion
  • V6
  • Visual motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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