The Contribution of Area MT to Visual Motion Perception Depends on Training

Neuron. 2017 Jul 19;95(2):436-446.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.06.024. Epub 2017 Jul 6.


Perceptual decisions require the transformation of raw sensory inputs into cortical representations suitable for stimulus discrimination. One of the best-known examples of this transformation involves the middle temporal area (MT) of the primate visual cortex. Area MT provides a robust representation of stimulus motion, and previous work has shown that it contributes causally to performance on motion discrimination tasks. Here we report that the strength of this contribution can be highly plastic: depending on the recent training history, pharmacological inactivation of MT can severely impair motion discrimination, or it can have little detectable influence. Further analysis of neural and behavioral data suggests that training moves the readout of motion information between MT and lower-level cortical areas. These results show that the contribution of individual brain regions to conscious perception can shift flexibly depending on sensory experience.

Keywords: cortex; decision making; inactivation; perceptual training; plasticity; visual motion.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motion
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*