The complex structure of receptive fields in the middle temporal area

Micah Richert, Thomas D. Albright, Bart Krekelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Neurons in the middle temporal area (MT) are often viewed as motion detectors that prefer a single direction of motion in a single region of space. This assumption plays an important role in our understanding of visual processing, and models of motion processing in particular. We used extracellular recordings in area MT of awake, behaving monkeys (M. mulatta) to test this assumption with a novel reverse correlation approach. Nearly half of the MT neurons in our sample deviated significantly from the classical view. First, in many cells, direction preference changed with the location of the stimulus within the receptive field. Second, the spatial response profile often had multiple peaks with apparent gaps in between. This shows that visual motion analysis in MT has access to motion detectors that are more complex than commonly thought. This complexity could be a mere byproduct of imperfect development, but can also be understood as the natural consequence of the nonlinear, recurrent interactions among laterally connected MT neurons. An important direction for future research is to investigate whether these inhomogeneities are advantageous, how they can be incorporated into models of motion detection, and whether they can provide quantitative insight into the underlying effective connectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue numberFEB
StatePublished - Feb 13 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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