The constructive nature of vision: direct evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of apparent motion and motion imagery

Eur J Neurosci. 1998 May;10(5):1563-73. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.1998.00181.x.


Echoplanar functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to monitor activation changes of brain areas while subjects viewed apparent motion stimuli and while they were engaged in motion imagery. Human cortical areas MT (V5) and MST were the first areas of the 'dorsal' processing stream which responded with a clear increase in signal intensity to apparent motion stimuli as compared with flickering control conditions. Apparent motion of figures defined by illusory contours evoked greater activation in V2 and MT/MST than appropriate control conditions. Several areas of the dorsal pathway (V3A, MT/MST, areas in the inferior and superior parietal lobule) as well as prefrontal areas including FEF and BA 9/46 responded strongly when subjects merely imagined moving stimuli which they had seen several seconds before. The activation during motion imagery increased with the synaptic distance of an area from V1 along the dorsal processing stream. Area MT/MST was selectively activated during motion imagery but not during a static imagery control condition. The comparison between the results obtained with objective motion, apparent motion and imagined motion provides further insights into a complex cortical network of motion-sensitive areas driven by bottom-up and top-down neural processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Motion*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology