Shared motion signals for human perceptual decisions and oculomotor actions

J Vis. 2003 Dec 2;3(11):725-36. doi: 10.1167/3.11.7.


A fundamental question in primate neurobiology is to understand to what extent motor behaviors are driven by shared neural signals that also support conscious perception or by independent subconscious neural signals dedicated to motor control. Although it has clearly been established that cortical areas involved in processing visual motion support both perception and smooth pursuit eye movements, it remains unknown whether the same or different sets of neurons within these structures perform these two functions. Examination of the trial-by-trial variation in human perceptual and pursuit responses during a simultaneous psychophysical and oculomotor task reveals that the direction signals for pursuit and perception are not only similar on average but also co-vary on a trial-by-trial basis, even when performance is at or near chance and the decisions are determined largely by neural noise. We conclude that the neural signal encoding the direction of target motion that drives steady-state pursuit and supports concurrent perceptual judgments emanates from a shared ensemble of cortical neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Oculomotor Muscles / innervation
  • Oculomotor Muscles / physiology
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*