Neuronal mechanisms for detection of motion in the field of view

Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(13):1717-27. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(03)00174-x.


The visual system cannot rely only upon information from the retina to perceive object motion because identical retinal stimulations can be evoked by the movement of objects in the field of view as well as by the movements of retinal images self-evoked by eye movements. We clearly distinguish the two situations, perceiving object motion in the first case and stationarity in the second. The present work deals with the neuronal mechanisms that are likely involved in the detection of real motion. In monkeys, cells that are able to distinguish real from self-induced motion (real-motion cells) are distributed in several cortical areas of the dorsal visual stream. We suggest that the activity of these cells is responsible for motion perception, and hypothesize that these cells are the elements of a cortical network representing an internal map of a stable visual world. Supporting this view are the facts that: (i) the same cortical regions in humans are activated in brain imaging studies during perception of object motion; and (ii) lesions of these same regions produce selective impairments in motion detection, so that patients interpret any retinal image motion as object motion, even when they result from her/his eye movements. Among the areas of the dorsal visual stream rich in real-motion cells, V3A and V6, likely involved in the fast form and motion analyses needed for visual guidance of action, could use real-motion signals to orient the animal's attention towards moving objects, and/or to help grasping them. Areas MT/V5, MST and 7a, known to be involved in the control of pursuit eye movements and in the analysis of visual signals evoked by slow ocular movements, could use real-motion signals to give a proper evaluation of motion during pursuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Eye Movements
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Motion*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*