Extrastriate area MST and parietal area VIP similarly represent forward headings

J Neurophysiol. 2010 Jul;104(1):239-47. doi: 10.1152/jn.01083.2009. Epub 2010 Apr 28.


Many studies have documented the involvement of medial superior temporal extrastriate area (MST) in the perception of heading based on optic flow information. Furthermore, both heading perception and the responses of MST neurons are relatively stable in the presence of eye movements that distort the retinal flow information on which perception is based. Area VIP in the posterior parietal cortex also contains a robust representation of optic flow cues for heading. However, the studies in the two areas were frequently conducted using different stimuli, making quantitative comparison difficult. To remedy this, we studied MST using a family of random dot heading stimuli that we have previously used in the study of VIP. These stimuli simulate observer translation through a three-dimensional cloud of points, and a range of forward headings was presented both with and without horizontal smooth pursuit eye movements. We found that MST neurons, like VIP neurons, respond robustly to these stimuli and partially compensate for the presence of pursuit. Quantitative comparison of the responses revealed no substantial difference between the heading responses of MST and VIP neurons or in their degree of pursuit tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena
  • Fixation, Ocular / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Microelectrodes
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Pursuit, Smooth / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*