Motion opponency in visual cortex

David J. Heeger, Geoffrey M. Boynton, Jonathan B. Demb, Eyal Seidemann, William T. Newsome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perceptual studies suggest that visual motion perception is mediated by opponent mechanisms that correspond to mutually suppressive populations of neurons sensitive to motions in opposite directions. We tested for a neuronal correlate of motion opponency using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity in human visual cortex. There was strong motion opponency in a secondary visual cortical area known as the human MT complex (MT+), but there was little evidence of motion opponency in primary visual cortex. To determine whether the level of opponency in human and monkey are comparable, a variant of these experiments was performed using multiunit electrophysiological recording in areas MT and MST of the macaque monkey brain. Although there was substantial variability in the degree of opponency between recording sites, the monkey and human data were qualitatively similar on average. These results provide further evidence that: (1) direction-selective signals underly human MT+ responses, (2) neuronal signals in human MT+ support visual motion perception, (3) human MT+ is homologous to macaque monkey MT and adjacent motion sensitive brain areas, and (4) that fMRI measurements are correlated with average spiking activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7162-7174
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 1999


  • MT
  • Motion
  • Motion opponency
  • Neuroimaging
  • V1
  • Vision
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual motion perception
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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