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Comparing neuronal and behavioral thresholds for spiral motion discrimination

Rodríguez-Sanchez, Antonio J.a; Tsotsos, John K.a; Treue, Stefanc d; Martinez-Trujillo, Julio C.b

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32833312c7
VISION, CENTRAL
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As we move, the projection of moving objects on our retinas generates an array of velocity vectors known as optic flow. One class of optic flow is spiral motion, defined by the angle between a local vector direction and the direction of the steepest increase in local speed. By discriminating among such angles, an organism could discern between different flow patterns and effectively interact with the environment. In primates, spiral-selective neurons in medial superior temporal area are thought to provide the substrate for this ability. We found that these cells show higher discrimination thresholds than found behaviorally in humans, suggesting that when discriminating spiral motions the brain integrates information across many of these neurons to achieve its high perceptual performance.

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aCenter for Vision Research, York University, Toronto, Ontario

bCognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Department of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

cGerman Primate Center

dBernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Goettingen, Germany

Correspondence to Dr Julio C. Martinez-Trujillo, MD, PhD, Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, Department of Physiology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1Y6

Tel: +1 514 398 6024; fax: +1 514 398 8241; e-mail: julio.martinez@mcgill.ca

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Website (www.neuroreport.com).

Received 04 August 2009 accepted 15 September 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.