Representational momentum and the brain: An investigation of the functional necessity of V5/MT

Carl Senior, Jamie Ward, Anthony S. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mental representation of objects can imply motion and momentum. This can be explored by investigating a distortion in recognition memory for pictures that depict objects “frozen” in mid-air, implying motion. This distortion is called representational momentum (RM). Recent functional neuroimaging studies have suggested that the V5/MT system (the area of the brain thought to be responsible for perceptual processing of motion) is involved in the mediation of RM. The results of these studies are reviewed here. However the presence of functional activity revealed in brain imaging studies does not mean that this part of the brain is necessary for a particular cognitive task. A greater degree of functional necessity can be inferred by disrupting function in that part of the brain. One way in which this can be done is with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS, a method of temporarily suspending cortical activity). We extended the findings of the previous fMRI experiments by using TMS in conjunction with an RM paradigm. Repetitive magnetic stimulation to V5/MT during the so-called freeze-frame RM task resulted in an absence of the stereotypical distortion in recognition memory (compared to stimulation at the vertex) for approximately 60% of
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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