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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Mental Health - Science Policy

Illusions of Visual Motion Elicited by Electrical Stimulation of Human MT Complex
Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Author: Andreas M. Rauschecker et al.

by Andreas M. Rauschecker, Mohammad Dastjerdi, Kevin S. Weiner, Nathan Witthoft, Janice Chen, Aslihan Selimbeyoglu, Josef Parvizi

Human cortical area MT+ (hMT+) is known to respond to visual motion stimuli, but its causal role in the conscious experience of motion remains largely unexplored. Studies in non-human primates demonstrate that altering activity in area MT can influence motion perception judgments, but animal studies are inherently limited in assessing subjective conscious experience. In the current study, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), intracranial electrocorticography (ECoG), and electrical brain stimulation (EBS) in three patients implanted with intracranial electrodes to address the role of area hMT+ in conscious visual motion perception. We show that in conscious human subjects, reproducible illusory motion can be elicited by electrical stimulation of hMT+. These visual motion percepts only occurred when the site of stimulation overlapped directly with the region of the brain that had increased fMRI and electrophysiological activity during moving compared to static visual stimuli in the same individual subjects. Electrical stimulation in neighboring regions failed to produce illusory motion. Our study provides evidence for the sufficient causal link between the hMT+ network and the human conscious experience of visual motion. It also suggests a clear spatial relationship between fMRI signal and ECoG activity in the human brain.
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