Responses of MT and MST neurons to one and two moving objects in the receptive field

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Dec;78(6):2904-15. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.78.6.2904.


To test the effects of complex visual motion stimuli on the responses of single neurons in the middle temporal visual area (MT) and the medial superior temporal area (MST) of the macaque monkey, we compared the response elicited by one object in motion through the receptive field with the response of two simultaneously presented objects moving in different directions through the receptive field. There was an increased response to a stimulus moving in a direction other than the best direction when it was paired with a stimulus moving in the best direction. This increase was significant for all directions of motion of the non-best stimulus and the magnitude of the difference increased as the difference in the directions of the two stimuli increased. Similarly, there was a decreased response to a stimulus moving in a non-null direction when it was paired with a stimulus moving in the null direction. This decreased response in MT did not reach significance unless the second stimulus added to the null direction moved in the best direction, whereas in MST the decrease was significant when the second stimulus direction differed from the null by 90 degrees or more. Further analysis showed that the two-object responses were better predicted by taking the averaged response of the neuron to the two single-object stimuli than by summation, multiplication, or vector addition of the responses to each of the two single-object stimuli. Neurons in MST showed larger modulations than did neurons in MT with stimuli moving in both the best direction and in the null direction and the average better predicted the two-object response in area MST than in area MT. This indicates that areas MT and MST probably use a similar integrative mechanisms to create their responses to complex moving visual stimuli, but that this mechanism is further refined in MST. These experiments show that neurons in both MT and MST integrate the motion of all directions in their responses to complex moving stimuli. These results with the motion of objects were in sound agreement with those previously reported with the use of random dot patterns for the study of transparent motion in MT and suggest that these neurons use similar computational mechanisms in the processing of object and global motion stimuli.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cues*
  • Linear Models
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motion*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*