The response of neurons in areas V1 and MT of the alert rhesus monkey to moving random dot patterns

Exp Brain Res. 1992;88(2):389-400. doi: 10.1007/BF02259114.


We studied the response of single units to moving random dot patterns in areas V1 and MT of the alert macaque monkey. Most cells could be driven by such patterns; however, many cells in V1 did not give a consistent response but fired at a particular point during stimulus presentation. Thus different dot patterns can produce a markedly different response at any particular time, though the time averaged response is similar. A comparison of the directionality of cells in both V1 and MT using random dot patterns shows the cells of MT to be far more directional. In addition our estimates of the percentage of directional cells in both areas are consistent with previous reports using other stimuli. However, we failed to find a bimodality of directionality in V1 which has been reported in some other studies. The variance associated with response was determined for individual cells. In both areas the variance was found to be approximately equal to the mean response, indicating little difference between extrastriate and striate cortex. These estimates are in broad agreement (though the variance appears a little lower) with those of V1 cells of the anesthetized cat. The response of MT cells was simulated on a computer from the estimates derived from the single unit recordings. While the direction tuning of MT cells is quite wide (mean half-width at half-height approximately 50 degrees) it is shown that the cells can reliably discriminate much smaller changes in direction, and the performance of the cells with the smallest discriminanda were comparable to thresholds measured with human subjects using the same stimuli (approximately 1.1 degrees). Minimum discriminanda for individual cells occurred not at the preferred direction, that is, the peak of their tuning curves, but rather on the steep flanks of their tuning curves. This result suggests that the cells which may mediate the discrimination of motion direction may not be the cells most sensitive to that direction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology