Responses of neurons in macaque MT to unikinetic plaids

Pascal Wallisch, J. Anthony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Response properties of MT neurons are often studied with “bikinetic” plaid stimuli, which consist of two superimposed sine wave gratings moving in different directions. Oculomotor studies using “unikinetic plaids” in which only one of the two superimposed gratings moves suggest that the eyes first move reflexively in the direction of the moving grating and only later converge on the perceived direction of the moving pattern. MT has been implicated as the source of visual signals that drives these responses. We wanted to know whether stationary gratings, which have little effect on MT cells when presented alone, would influence MT responses when paired with a moving grating. We recorded extracellularly from neurons in area MT and measured responses to stationary and moving gratings, and to their sums: bikinetic and unikinetic plaids. As expected, stationary gratings presented alone had a very modest influence on the activity of MT neurons. Responses to moving gratings and bikinetic plaids were similar to those previously reported and revealed cells selective for the motion of plaid patterns and of their components (pattern and component cells). When these neurons were probed with unikinetic plaids, pattern cells shifted their direction preferences in a way that revealed the influence of the static grating. Component cell preferences shifted little or not at all. These results support the notion that pattern-selective neurons in area MT integrate component motions that differ widely in speed, and that they do so in a way that is consistent with an intersection-of-constraints model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1937-1945
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2019


  • Direction selectivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • MT
  • Motion integration
  • Motion perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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