Abstract

Two rhesus monkeys were subjects in a direction-discrimination task involving moving stimuli defined by either first- or second-order motion. Two different second-order motion stimuli were used: drift-balanced motion consisting of a rectangular field of stationary dots and theta motion consisting of the same rectangular field with dots moving in the direction opposite to that of the object. The two types of stimuli involved different segmentation cues between the moving object and the background: temporal structure of the luminance (flicker) in the case of drift-balanced motion and opposed motion in the case of the theta-motion stimulus. Our monkeys were able to correctly report the direction of each stimulus. Single-unit recordings from the middle temporal (MT) and medial superior temporal (MST) areas revealed that 16 out of 38 neurons (41%) from area MT and 34 out of 68 neurons (50%) from area MST responded in a directionally selective manner to the drift-balanced stimulus. The movement of an object defined by theta motion is not explicitly encoded in the neuronal activity in areas MT or MST. Our results do not support the hypothesis that the neuronal activity in these areas codes for the direction of stimulus movement independent of specific stimulus parameters. Furthermore, our results emphasize the relevance of different segmentation cues between figure and background. Therefore the notion that there are multiple sites responsible for the processing of second-order motion is strongly supported.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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