Motion integration by neurons in macaque MT is local, not global

Najib J. Majaj, Matteo Carandini, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direction-selective neurons in primary visual cortex have small receptive fields that encode the motions of local features. These motions often differ from the motion of the object to which they belong and must therefore be integrated elsewhere. A candidate site for this integration is visual cortical area MT (V5), in which cells with large receptive fields compute the motion of patterns. Previous studies of motion integration in MT have used stimuli that fill the receptive field, and thus do not test whether motion information is really integrated across this whole area. For each MT neuron, we identified two regions ("patches") within the receptive field that were approximately equally effective in driving responses. We then measured responses to plaids whose component gratings overlapped within a patch, and compared them with responses to the same component gratings presented in separate patches. Cells that were selective for the direction of motion of the whole pattern when the gratings overlapped lost this selectivity when the gratings were separated and became selective instead for the direction of motion of the individual components. If MT cells simply pooled all of the inputs that endow them with a receptive field, they would encode all of the motions in the receptive field as belonging to a single object. Our results indicate instead that critical elements of the computations underlying pattern-direction selectivity in MT are done locally, on a scale smaller than the whole receptive field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-370
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2007


  • Component
  • Extrastriate
  • MT
  • Pattern
  • V5
  • Vision
  • Visual motion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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