Complex Visual Motion Representation in Mouse Area V1

J Neurosci. 2017 Jan 4;37(1):164-183. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0997-16.2017.


Rodent visual cortex has a hierarchical architecture similar to that of higher mammals (Coogan and Burkhalter, 1993; Marshel et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2012). Although notable differences exist between the species in terms or receptive field sizes and orientation map organization (Dräger, 1975; Gattass et al., 1987; Van den Bergh et al., 2010), mouse V1 is thought to respond to local orientation and visual motion elements rather than to global patterns of motion, similar to V1 in higher mammals (Niell and Stryker, 2008; Bonin et al., 2011). However, recent results are inconclusive: some argue mouse V1 is analogous to monkey V1 (Juavinett and Callaway, 2015); others argue that it displays complex motion responses (Muir et al., 2015). We used type I plaids formed by the additive superposition of moving gratings (Adelson and Movshon, 1982; Movshon et al., 1985; Albright and Stoner, 1995) to investigate this question. We show that mouse V1 contains a considerably smaller fraction of component-motion-selective neurons (∼17% vs ∼84%), and a larger fraction of pattern-motion-selective neurons (∼10% vs <1.3%) compared with primate/cat V1. The direction of optokinetic nystagmus correlates with visual perception in higher mammals (Fox et al., 1975; Logothetis and Schall, 1990; Wei and Sun, 1998; Watanabe, 1999; Naber et al., 2011). Measurement of optokinetic responses to plaid stimuli revealed that mice demonstrate bistable perception, sometimes tracking individual stimulus components and others the global pattern of motion. Moreover, bistable optokinetic responses cannot be entirely attributed to subcortical circuitry as V1 lesions alter the fraction of responses occurring along pattern versus component motion. These observations suggest that area V1 input contributes to complex motion perception in the mouse.

Significance statement: Area V1 in the mouse is hierarchically similar but not necessarily identical to area V1 in cats and primates. Here we demonstrate that area V1 neurons process complex motion plaid stimuli differently in mice versus in cats or primates. Specifically, a smaller proportion of mouse V1 cells are sensitive to component motion, and a larger proportion to pattern motion than are found in area V1 of cats/primates. Furthermore, we demonstrate for the first time that mice exhibit bistable visual perception of plaid stimuli, and that this depends, at least in part, on area V1 input. Finally, we suggest that the relative proportion of component-motion-selective responses to pattern-motion-selective responses in mouse V1 may bias visual perception, as evidenced by changes in the direction of elicited optokinetic responses.

Keywords: area V1; bistable stimuli; mouse; plaids.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Cats
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Nystagmus, Optokinetic / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Primates
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*