Midbrain as a Site for the Motion After-effect


FOLLOWING inspection of a rotating spiral, there is an illusion of counter-rotation when the spiral is stationary. This motion after-effect was studied as early as 1849 by Plateau1, and is believed to be caused by the fatiguing or reduction in the maintained discharge of one set of directionally sensitive units in the visual system2–5. Locating the part of the human brain where these adapted “movement detectors” reside, however, has been difficult. Two facts suggest that the major component of the motion after-effect is not in the retina: first, the after-effect transfers from one eye to another6,7; and second, inter-ocular transfer persists even when the previously adapted eye is pressure-blinded8,9. This evidence has led most workers to conclude that the motion after-effect is a cortical phenomenon. But, considering the wealth of recent electro-physiological data revealing directionally sensitive units in the optic tectum (superior colliculus) of many different mammals10–14, the midbrain appears to be an equally plausible site.

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RICHARDS, W., SMITH, R. Midbrain as a Site for the Motion After-effect. Nature 223, 533–534 (1969). https://doi.org/10.1038/223533a0

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