Task contingencies and perceptual strategies shape behavioral effects on neuronal response profiles

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Jan;109(2):546-56. doi: 10.1152/jn.00377.2012. Epub 2012 Oct 24.


We presented optic flow simulating eight directions of self-movement in the ground plane, while monkeys performed delayed match-to-sample tasks, and we recorded dorsal medial superior temporal (MSTd) neuronal activity. Randomly selected sample headings yield smaller test responses to the neuron's preferred heading when it is near the sample's heading direction and larger test responses to the preferred heading when it is far from the sample's heading. Limiting test stimuli to matching or opposite headings suppresses responses to preferred stimuli in both test conditions, whereas focusing on each neuron's preferred vs. antipreferred stimuli enhances responses to the antipreferred stimulus. Match vs. opposite paradigms create bimodal heading profiles shaped by interactions with late delay-period activity. We conclude that task contingencies, determining the prior probabilities of specific stimuli, interact with the monkeys' perceptual strategy for optic flow analysis. These influences shape attentional and working memory effects on the heading direction selectivities and preferences of MSTd neurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Haplorhini
  • Memory, Short-Term
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optic Flow
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Perception*