Separate Perceptual and Neural Processing of Velocity- and Disparity-Based 3D Motion Signals

J Neurosci. 2016 Oct 19;36(42):10791-10802. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1298-16.2016.


Although the visual system uses both velocity- and disparity-based binocular information for computing 3D motion, it is unknown whether (and how) these two signals interact. We found that these two binocular signals are processed distinctly at the levels of both cortical activity in human MT and perception. In human MT, adaptation to both velocity-based and disparity-based 3D motions demonstrated direction-selective neuroimaging responses. However, when adaptation to one cue was probed using the other cue, there was no evidence of interaction between them (i.e., there was no "cross-cue" adaptation). Analogous psychophysical measurements yielded correspondingly weak cross-cue motion aftereffects (MAEs) in the face of very strong within-cue adaptation. In a direct test of perceptual independence, adapting to opposite 3D directions generated by different binocular cues resulted in simultaneous, superimposed, opposite-direction MAEs. These findings suggest that velocity- and disparity-based 3D motion signals may both flow through area MT but constitute distinct signals and pathways.

Significance statement: Recent human neuroimaging and monkey electrophysiology have revealed 3D motion selectivity in area MT, which is driven by both velocity-based and disparity-based 3D motion signals. However, to elucidate the neural mechanisms by which the brain extracts 3D motion given these binocular signals, it is essential to understand how-or indeed if-these two binocular cues interact. We show that velocity-based and disparity-based signals are mostly separate at the levels of both fMRI responses in area MT and perception. Our findings suggest that the two binocular cues for 3D motion might be processed by separate specialized mechanisms.

Keywords: 3D motion; binocular vision; changing disparity; fMRI; interocular velocity difference; motion aftereffect.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Figural Aftereffect
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision Disparity / physiology
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*