The Perceived Position of Moving Objects: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation of Area MT+ Reduces the Flash-Lag Effect.

Department of Psychology, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.31). 02/2012; DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhs021
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT How does the visual system assign the perceived position of a moving object? This question is surprisingly complex, since sluggish responses of photoreceptors and transmission delays along the visual pathway mean that visual cortex does not have immediate information about a moving object's position. In the flash-lag effect (FLE), a moving object is perceived ahead of an aligned flash. Psychophysical work on this illusion has inspired models for visual localization of moving objects. However, little is known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Here, we investigated the role of neural activity in areas MT+ and V1/V2 in localizing moving objects. Using short trains of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) or single pulses at different time points, we measured the influence of TMS on the perceived location of a moving object. We found that TMS delivered to MT+ significantly reduced the FLE; single pulse timings revealed a broad temporal tuning with maximum effect for TMS pulses, 200 ms after the flash. Stimulation of V1/V2 did not significantly influence perceived position. Our results demonstrate that area MT+ contributes to the perceptual localization of moving objects and is involved in the integration of position information over a long time window.

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    ABSTRACT: We employed audiovisual stream/bounce displays, in which two moving objects with crossing trajectories are more likely to be perceived as bouncing off, rather than streaming through, each other when a brief sound is presented at the coincidence of the two objects. However, Kawachi and Gyoba (Perception 35:1289-1294, 2006b) reported that the presence of an additional moving object near the two objects altered the perception of a bouncing event to that of a streaming event. In this study, we extended this finding and examined whether alteration of the event perception could be induced by the visual context, such as by occluded object motion near the stream/bounce display. The results demonstrated that even when the sound was presented, the continuous occluded motion strongly biased observers' percepts toward the streaming percept during a short occlusion interval (approximately 100 ms). In contrast, when the continuous occluded motion was disrupted by introducing a spatiotemporal gap in the motion trajectory or by removing occlusion cues such as deletion/accretion, the bias toward the streaming percept declined. Thus, we suggest that a representation of object motion generated under a limited occlusion interval interferes with audiovisual event perception.
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    ABSTRACT: In the flash-lag effect (FLE) and in representational momentum (RM), the represented position of a moving target is displaced in the direction of motion. Effects of numerous variables on the FLE and on RM are briefly considered. In many cases, variables appear to have the same effect on the FLE and on RM, and this is consistent with a hypothesis that displacements in the FLE and in RM result from overlapping or similar mechanisms. In other cases, variables initially appear to have different effects on the FLE and on RM, but accounts reconciling those apparent differences with a hypothesis of overlapping or similar mechanisms are suggested. Given that RM is simpler and accounts for a wider range of findings (i.e., RM involves a single stimulus rather than the relationship between two stimuli, RM accounts for displacement in absolute position of a single stimulus and for differences in relative position of two stimuli), it is suggested that (at least some cases of) the FLE might be a special case of RM in which the position of the target is assessed relative to the position of another stimulus (i.e., the flashed object) rather than relative to the actual position of the target.
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    ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence suggests that items held in working memory (WM) might not all be in the same representational state. One item might be privileged over others, making it more accessible and thereby recalled with greater precision. Here, using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), we provide causal evidence in human participants that items in WM are differentially susceptible to disruptive TMS, depending on their state, determined either by task relevance or serial position. Across two experiments, we applied TMS to area MT+ during the WM retention of two motion directions. In Experiment 1, we used an "incidental cue" to bring one of the two targets into a privileged state. In Experiment 2, we presented the targets sequentially so that the last item was in a privileged state by virtue of recency. In both experiments, recall precision of motion direction was differentially affected by TMS, depending on the state of the memory target at the time of disruption. Privileged items were recalled with less precision, whereas nonprivileged items were recalled with higher precision. Thus, only the privileged item was susceptible to disruptive TMS over MT+. By contrast, precision of the nonprivileged item improved either directly because of facilitation by TMS or indirectly through reduced interference from the privileged item. Our results provide a unique line of evidence, as revealed by TMS over a posterior sensory brain region, for at least two different states of item representation in WM.
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