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Optic Flow Stimuli in and Near the Visual Field Centre: A Group fMRI Study of Motion Sensitive Regions

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0004043
  • Research Article
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience/Sensory Systems
  • Radiology And Medical Imaging/Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Motion stimuli in one visual hemifield activate human primary visual areas of the contralateral side, but suppress activity of the corresponding ipsilateral regions. While hemifield motion is rare in everyday life, motion in both hemifields occurs regularly whenever we move. Consequently, during motion primary visual regions should simultaneously receive excitatory and inhibitory inputs. A comparison of primary and higher visual cortex activations induced by bilateral and unilateral motion stimuli is missing up to now. Many motion studies focused on the MT+ complex in the parieto-occipito-temporal cortex. In single human subjects MT+ has been subdivided in area MT, which was activated by motion stimuli in the contralateral visual field, and area MST, which responded to motion in both the contra- and ipsilateral field. In this study we investigated the cortical activation when excitatory and inhibitory inputs interfere with each other in primary visual regions and we present for the first time group results of the MT+ subregions, allowing for comparisons with the group results of other motion processing studies. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated whole brain activations in a large group of healthy humans by applying optic flow stimuli in and near the visual field centre and performed a second level analysis. Primary visual areas were activated exclusively by motion in the contralateral field but to our surprise not by central flow fields. Inhibitory inputs to primary visual regions appear to cancel simultaneously occurring excitatory inputs during central flow field stimulation. Within MT+ we identified two subregions. Putative area MST (pMST) was activated by ipsi- and contralateral stimulation and located in the anterior part of MT+. The second subregion was located in the more posterior part of MT+ (putative area MT, pMT).

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