Human middle temporal cortex, perceptual bias, and perceptual memory for ambiguous three-dimensional motion

J Neurosci. 2010 Jan 13;30(2):760-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4171-09.2010.


When faced with inconclusive or conflicting visual input human observers experience one of multiple possible perceptions. One factor that determines perception of such an ambiguous stimulus is how the same stimulus was perceived on previous occasions, a phenomenon called perceptual memory. We examined perceptual memory of an ambiguous motion stimulus while applying transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to the motion-sensitive areas of the middle temporal cortex (hMT+). TMS increased the predominance of whichever perceptual interpretation was most commonly reported by a given observer at baseline, with reduced perception of the less favored interpretation. This increased incidence of the preferred percept indicates impaired long-term buildup of perceptual memory traces that normally act against individual percept biases. We observed no effect on short-term memory traces acting from one presentation to the next. Our results indicate that hMT+ is important for the long-term buildup of perceptual memory for ambiguous motion stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Bias*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychophysics
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods