Representation of motion boundaries in retinotopic human visual cortical areas

Nature. 1997 Jul 10;388(6638):175-9. doi: 10.1038/40633.


Edges are important in the interpretation of the retinal image. Although luminance edges have been studied extensively, much less is known about how or where the primate visual system detects boundaries defined by differences in surface properties such as texture, motion or binocular disparity. Here we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to localize human visual cortical activity related to the processing of one such higher-order edge type: motion boundaries. We describe a robust fMRI signal that is selective for motion segmentation. This boundary-specific signal is present, and retinotopically organized, within early visual areas, beginning in the primary visual cortex (area V1). Surprisingly, it is largely absent from the motion-selective area MT/V5 and far extrastriate visual areas. Changes in the surface velocity defining the motion boundaries affect the strength of the fMRI signal. In parallel psychophysical experiments, the perceptual salience of the boundaries shows a similar dependence on surface velocity. These results demonstrate that information for segmenting scenes by relative motion is represented as early as V1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*