A quantitative framework for motion visibility in human cortex [article]

Daniel Birman, Justin L Gardner
<span title="2018-06-29">2018</span> <i title="Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory"> bioRxiv </i> &nbsp; <span class="release-stage" >pre-print</span>
Despite the central use of motion visibility to reveal the neural basis of perception, perceptual decision making, and sensory inference there exists no comprehensive quantitative framework establishing how motion visibility parameters modulate human cortical response. Random-dot motion stimuli can be made less visible by reducing image contrast or motion coherence, or by shortening the stimulus duration. Because each of these manipulations modulates the strength of sensory neural responses
more &raquo; ... have all been extensively used to reveal cognitive and other non-sensory phenomenon such as the influence of priors, attention, and choice-history biases. However, each of these manipulations is thought to influence response in different ways across different cortical regions and a comprehensive study is required to interpret this literature. Here, human participants observed random-dot stimuli varying across a large range of contrast, coherence, and stimulus durations as we measured blood-oxygen-level dependent responses. We developed a framework for modeling these responses which quantifies their functional form and sensitivity across areas. Our framework demonstrates the sensitivity of all visual areas to each parameter, with early visual areas V1-V4 showing more parametric sensitivity to changes in contrast and V3A and MT to coherence. Our results suggest that while motion contrast, coherence, and duration share cortical representation, they are encoded with distinct functional forms and sensitivity. Thus, our quantitative framework serves as a reference for interpretation of the vast perceptual literature manipulating these parameters and shows that different manipulations of visibility will have different effects across human visual cortex and need to be interpreted accordingly.
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