Feedback projections are an integral part of the mammalian visual system. Although it is tempting to relegate them to a subsidiary role in visual processing, because their supposed latency and lag might appear to be unfavourable for an involvement in fast processing, this is a dangerous simplification. Certainly for the world in motion, feedback from higher motion areas can influence the transfer of ascending input when, or even before, the input arrives. Here, we consider the circuit formed by layer 6 feedback cells in the visual cortex and how this straddles the retinothalamic and thalamocortical transfer of visual input. We discuss its links to feedback from the cortical motion area MT (V5), and suggest that motion perception involves a dynamic interplay between MT, V1 and the thalamus. This review is part of the TINS special issue on The Neural Substrates of Cognition.