Paper in Journal of Neurophysiology
  • Maloney, R.T., Watson, T.L., Clifford, C.W.G. (2013). Human cortical and behavioral sensitivity to patterns of complex motion at eccentricity. Journal of Neurophysiology, 110, Issue 11, pp 2545-2556.

    Complex patterns of image motion (contracting, expanding, rotating, and spiraling fields) are important in the coordination of visually guided behaviors. Whereas specialized detectors in monkey visual cortex show selectivity for particular patterns of complex motion, their representation in human visual cortex remains unclear. In the present study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the sensitivity of functionally defined regions of human visual cortex to parametrically modulated complex motion trajectories, coupled with complementary psychophysical testing. A unique stimulus design made it possible to disambiguate the neural responses and psychophysical sensitivity to complex motions per se from the distribution of local motions relative to the fovea, which are known to enhance cortical activity when presented radial to fixation. This involved presenting several small, separate motion fields in the periphery in a manner that distinguished them from global optic flow patterns. The patterns were morphed through complex motion space in a systematic time-locked fashion when presented in the scanner. Anisotropies were observed in the fMRI signal, marked by an enhanced response to expanding vs. contracting fields, even in early visual cortex. Anisotropies in the psychophysical sensitivity measures followed a similar pattern that was correlated with activity in areas hV4, V5/MT, and MST. This represents the first systematic examination of complex motion perception at both a behavioral and neural level in human observers. The characteristic processing anisotropy revealed in both data sets can inform models of complex motion processing, particularly with respect to computations performed in early visual cortex.