Structure and function of the middle temporal visual area (MT) in the marmoset: Comparisons with the macaque monkey

Neurosci Res. 2015 Apr;93:62-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2014.09.012. Epub 2014 Oct 7.


Although macaque monkeys have been dominant models in visual neuroscience, recent scientific advances suggest that marmosets provide a valuable alternative in the context of many types of experiments. Here we focus on the middle temporal area (MT), the most extensively studied extrastriate area in primates, and discuss similarities and differences between marmosets and macaques. The basic response properties of MT cells are similar in these species, including direction selectivity, speed tuning, and receptive field centre-surround organization. However, there are differences associated with spatial processing: receptive fields are larger in the marmoset than in the macaque, and MT neurons have preferences for lower spatial frequencies. Comparative analysis of anatomical connections show neural projections from several higher-order association areas to marmoset MT, which seem to be absent or reduced in the macaque. This suggests that cognitive processes could influence the activity of marmoset MT cells more directly. Despite a relative reduction in visual acuity, the present knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of MT in the marmoset suggests that simple low-level visual tasks, which are standard in the literature, are well within the capabilities of marmosets, opening the way for comparative studies of perception and cognition in primate brains of different sizes.

Keywords: Afferent connections; Extrastriate cortex; Marmoset; Motion; Response properties; Vision.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Callithrix / anatomy & histology
  • Callithrix / physiology*
  • Macaca / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*