Improved Motion Perception and Impaired Spatial Suppression following Disruption of Cortical Area MT/V5

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.
The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 6.75). 01/2011; 31(4):1279-83. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4121-10.2011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT As stimulus size increases, motion direction of high-contrast patterns becomes increasingly harder to perceive. This counterintuitive behavioral result, termed "spatial suppression," is hypothesized to reflect center-surround antagonism-a receptive field property ubiquitous in sensory systems. Prior research proposed that spatial suppression of motion signals is a direct correlate of center-surround antagonism within cortical area MT. Here, we investigated whether human MT/V5 is indeed causally involved in spatial suppression of motion signals. The key assumption is that a disruption of neural mechanisms that play a critical role in spatial suppression could allow these normally suppressed motion signals to reach perceptual awareness. Thus, our hypothesis was that a disruption of MT/V5 should weaken spatial suppression and, consequently, improve motion perception of large, moving patterns. To disrupt MT/V5, we used offline 1 Hz transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)-a method that temporarily attenuates normal functioning of the targeted cortex. Early visual areas were also targeted as a control site. The results supported our hypotheses and showed that disruption of MT/V5 improved motion discrimination of large, moving stimuli, presumably by weakening surround suppression strength. This effect was specific to MT/V5 stimulation and contralaterally presented stimuli. Evidently, the critical neural constraints limiting motion perception of large, high-contrast stimuli involve MT/V5. Additionally, our findings mimic spatial suppression deficits that are observed in several patient populations and implicate impaired MT/V5 processes as likely neural correlates for the reported perceptual abnormalities in the elderly, patients with schizophrenia and those with a history of depression.

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