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Functional Organization for Direction of Motion and Its Relationship to Orientation Maps in Cat Area 18


Shmuel,  A
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Shmuel, A. (1996). Functional Organization for Direction of Motion and Its Relationship to Orientation Maps in Cat Area 18. Journal of Neuroscience, 16(21), 6945-6964. Retrieved from

The goal of this study was to explore the functional organization of direction of motion in cat area 18. Optical imaging was used to record the activity of populations of neurons. We found a patchy distribution of cortical regions exhibiting preference for one direction over the opposite direction of motion. The degree of clustering according to preference of direction was two to four times smaller than that observed for orientation. In general, direction preference changed smoothly along the cortical surface; however, discontinuities in the direction maps were observed. These discontinuities formed lines that separated pairs of patches with preference for opposite directions. The functional maps for direction and for orientation preference were closely related; typically, an iso-orientation patch was divided into regions that exhibited preference for opposite directions, orthogonal to the orientation. In addition, the lines of discontinuity within the direction map often connected points of singularity in the orientation map. Although the organization of both domains was related, the direction and the orientation selective responses were separable; whereas the selective response according to direction of motion was nearly independent of the length of bars used for visual stimulation, the selective response to orientation decreased significantly with decreasing length of the bars. Extensive single and multiunit electrical recordings, targeted to selected domains of the functional maps, confirmed the features revealed by optical imaging. We conclude that significant processing of direction of motion is performed early in the cat visual pathway.