Broad direction bandwidths for complex motion mechanisms

Timothy S. Meese*, M.G. Harris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Growing evidence from psychophysics and single-unit recordings suggests specialised mechanisms in the primate visual system for the detection of complex motion patterns such as expansion and rotation. Here we used a subthreshold summation technique to determine the direction tuning functions of the detecting mechanisms. We measured thresholds for discriminating noise and signal + noise for pairs of superimposed complex motion patterns (signal A and B) carried by random-dot stimuli in a circular 5° field. For expansion, rotation, deformation and translation we found broad tuning functions approximated by cos(d), where d is the difference in dot directions for signal A and B. These data were well described by models in which either: (a) cardinal mechanisms had direction bandwidths (half-widths) of around 60° or (b) the number of mechanisms was increased and their half-width was reduced to about 40°. When d = 180° we found summation to be greater than probability summation for expansion, rotation and translation, consistent with the idea that mechanisms for these stimuli are constructed from subunits responsive to relative motion. For deformation, however, we found sensitivity declined when d = 180°, suggesting antagonistic input from directional subunits in the deformation mechanism. This is a necessary property for a mechanism whose job is to extract the deformation component from the optic flow field. © 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1914
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2001


  • deformation rotation
  • expansion
  • inhibition
  • optic flow
  • subthreshold summation


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