3D surface perception from motion involves a temporal-parietal network

Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Aug;30(4):703-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2009.06857.x. Epub 2009 Aug 7.


Previous research has suggested that three-dimensional (3D) structure-from-motion (SFM) perception in humans involves several motion-sensitive occipital and parietal brain areas. By contrast, SFM perception in nonhuman primates seems to involve the temporal lobe including areas MT, MST and FST. The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study compared several motion-sensitive regions of interest including the superior temporal sulcus (STS) while human observers viewed horizontally moving dots that defined either a 3D corrugated surface or a 3D random volume. Low-level stimulus features such as dot density and velocity vectors as well as attention were tightly controlled. Consistent with previous research we found that 3D corrugated surfaces elicited stronger responses than random motion in occipital and parietal brain areas including area V3A, the ventral and dorsal intraparietal sulcus, the lateral occipital sulcus and the fusiform gyrus. Additionally, 3D corrugated surfaces elicited stronger activity in area MT and the STS but not in area MST. Brain activity in the STS but not in area MT correlated with interindividual differences in 3D surface perception. Our findings suggest that area MT is involved in the analysis of optic flow patterns such as speed gradients and that the STS in humans plays a greater role in the analysis of 3D SFM than previously thought.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology