Early discrimination of coherent versus incoherent motion by multiunit and synaptic activity in human putative MT+.

Istvan Ulbert, George Karmos, Gary Heit, Eric Halgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)


A laminar probe was chronically implanted in human putative MT+. The area was specifically responsive to globally coherent visual motion, a crucial aspect of the perception of movement through space. The probe contained 23 microcontacts spaced every 175μ in a linear array roughly perpendicular to the cortical surface. Current-source density (CSD) and multiunit activity (MUA) were recorded while viewing initially stationary random dot patterns that either moved incoherently or dilated from the central fixation. Onset of visual motion evoked large MUA/CSD activity, with coherent motion evoking earlier and faster-rising MUA/CSD activity than incoherent, in both superficial and deep pyramidal layers. The selective response, peaking at ≈115 ms, was especially large in deep pyramids, providing evidence that information necessary for visual flow calculations is projected from MT+ at an early latency to distant structures. The early onset of differential MUA/CSD implies that the selectivity of this area does not depend on recurrent inhibition or other intrinsic circuitry to detect coherent motion. The initially greater increase of MUA to coherent stimuli was followed by a greater decrease beginning at ≈133 ms, apparently because of recurrent inhibition. This resulted in the total MUA being greater to incoherent than coherent stimuli, whereas total rectified CSD was overall greater to coherent than to incoherent stimuli. However, MUA distinguished stationary from moving stimuli more strongly than did CSD. Thus, while estimates of total cell firing (MUA), and of total synaptic activity (CSD) generally correspond to previously reported BOLD results, they may differ in important details.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-238
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Cerebral cortex
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked potentials
  • Motion perception
  • Neocortex
  • Occipital lobe
  • Vision
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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