Neural Selectivity for Visual Motion in Macaque Area V3A

eNeuro. 2021 Jan 15;8(1):ENEURO.0383-20.2020. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0383-20.2020. Print 2021 Jan-Feb.


The processing of visual motion is conducted by dedicated pathways in the primate brain. These pathways originate with populations of direction-selective neurons in the primary visual cortex, which projects to dorsal structures like the middle temporal (MT) and medial superior temporal (MST) areas. Anatomical and imaging studies have suggested that area V3A might also be specialized for motion processing, but there have been very few studies of single-neuron direction selectivity in this area. We have therefore performed electrophysiological recordings from V3A neurons in two macaque monkeys (one male and one female) and measured responses to a large battery of motion stimuli that includes translation motion, as well as more complex optic flow patterns. For comparison, we simultaneously recorded the responses of MT neurons to the same stimuli. Surprisingly, we find that overall levels of direction selectivity are similar in V3A and MT and moreover that the population of V3A neurons exhibits somewhat greater selectivity for optic flow patterns. These results suggest that V3A should be considered as part of the motion processing machinery of the visual cortex, in both human and non-human primates.

Keywords: V3A; electrophysiology; macaque monkey; visual dorsal pathway; visual motion.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Motion
  • Motion Perception*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe
  • Visual Cortex*
  • Visual Pathways