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A Neural Representation of Depth from Motion Parallax in Macaque Visual Cortex

Summary: A Neural Representation of Depth from Motion Parallax in
Macaque Visual Cortex
Jacob W. Nadler1, Dora E. Angelaki1, and Gregory C. DeAngelis1,2
1 Dept. of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110
2 Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, NY 14627
Perception of depth is a fundamental challenge for the visual system, particularly for observers
moving through their environment. The brain makes use of multiple visual cues to reconstruct the
three-dimensional structure of a scene. One potent cue, motion parallax, frequently arises during
translation of the observer because the images of objects at different distances move across the retina
with different velocities. Human psychophysical studies have demonstrated that motion parallax can
be a powerful depth cue1-5, and motion parallax appears to be heavily exploited by animal species
that lack highly developed binocular vision6-8. However, little is known about the neural
mechanisms that underlie this capacity. We used a virtual-reality system to translate macaque
monkeys while they viewed motion parallax displays that simulated objects at different depths. We
show that many neurons in the middle temporal (MT) area signal the sign of depth (i.e., near vs. far)
from motion parallax in the absence of other depth cues. To achieve this, neurons must combine
visual motion with extra-retinal (non-visual) signals related to the animal's movement. Our findings
suggest a new neural substrate for depth perception, and demonstrate a robust interaction of visual
and non-visual cues in area MT. Combined with previous studies that implicate area MT in depth


Source: Angelaki, Dora - Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University in St. Louis


Collections: Biology and Medicine