An object that is looming toward a subject or receding away contains important information for determining if this object is dangerous, beneficial or harmless. This information (motion, direction, identity, time-to-collision, size, velocity) is analyzed by the brain in order to execute the appropriate behavioral responses depending on the context: fleeing, freezing, grasping, eating, exploring. In the current study, we performed ultra-high-field functional MRI (fMRI) at 9.4T in awake marmosets to explore the patterns of brain activation elicited by visual stimuli looming toward or receding away from the monkey. We found that looming and receding visual stimuli activated a large cortical network in frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital cortex in areas involved in the analysis of motion, shape, identity and features of the objects. Looming stimuli strongly activated a network composed of portions of the pulvinar, superior colliculus, putamen, parietal, prefrontal and temporal cortical areas. These activations suggest the existence of a network that processes visual stimuli looming toward peripersonal space to predict the consequence of these stimuli. Together with previous studies in macaque monkeys, these findings indicate that this network is preserved across Old and New World primates.
Keywords: Brain networks; Functional MRI; Looming stimuli; Marmoset; Receding stimuli; Subcortical areas; Visual.
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