Properties of pattern and component direction-selective cells in area MT of the macaque

J Neurophysiol. 2016 Jun 1;115(6):2705-20. doi: 10.1152/jn.00639.2014. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Neurons in area MT/V5 of the macaque visual cortex encode visual motion. Some cells are selective for the motion of oriented features (component direction-selective, CDS); others respond to the true direction of complex patterns (pattern-direction selective, PDS). There is a continuum of selectivity in MT, with CDS cells at one extreme and PDS cells at the other; we compute a pattern index that captures this variation. It is unknown how a neuron's pattern index is related to its other tuning characteristics. We therefore analyzed the responses of 792 MT cells recorded in the course of other experiments from opiate-anesthetized macaque monkeys, as a function of the direction, spatial frequency, drift rate, size, and contrast of sinusoidal gratings and of the direction and speed of random-dot textures. We also compared MT responses to those of 718 V1 cells. As expected, MT cells with higher pattern index tended to have stronger direction selectivity and broader direction tuning to gratings, and they responded better to plaids than to gratings. Strongly PDS cells also tended to have smaller receptive fields and stronger surround suppression. Interestingly, they also responded preferentially to higher drift rates and higher speeds of moving dots. The spatial frequency preferences of PDS cells depended strongly on their preferred temporal frequencies, whereas these preferences were independent in component-selective cells. Pattern direction selectivity is statistically associated with many response properties of MT cells but not strongly associated with any particular property. Pattern-selective signals are thus available in association with most other signals exported by MT.

Keywords: extrastriate visual cortex; macaques; neural dynamics; receptive fields; visual motion processing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Macaca radiata
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*