Visual motion aftereffect in human cortical area MT revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging

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Abstract

FUNCTIONAL magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)1–3 was used to measure local haemodynamic changes (reflecting electrical activity) in human visual cortex during production of the visual motion aftereffect, also known as the waterfall illusion4,5. As in previous studies6–9, human cortical area MT (V5) responded much better to moving than to stationary visual stimuli. Here we demonstrate a clear increase in activity in MT when subjects viewed a stationary stimulus undergoing illusory motion, following adaptation to stimuli moving in a single local direction. Control stimuli moving in reversing, opposed directions produced neither a perceptual motion aftereffect nor elevated fMRI levels postadaptation. The time course of the motion aftereffect (measured in parallel psychophysical tests) was essentially identical to the time course of the fMRI motion aftereffect. Because the motion aftereffect is direction specific, this indicates that cells in human area MT are also direction specific. In five other retinotopically defined cortical areas, similar motion-specific aftereffects were smaller than those in MT or absent.

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Tootell, R., Reppas, J., Dale, A. et al. Visual motion aftereffect in human cortical area MT revealed by functional magnetic resonance imaging. Nature 375, 139–141 (1995) doi:10.1038/375139a0

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