J Neurosci. 1995 Apr;15(4):3215-30

Functional analysis of human MT and related visual cortical areas using magnetic resonance imaging

Tootell RB, Reppas JB, Kwong KK, Malach R, Born RT, Brady TJ, Rosen BR, Belliveau JW.


Using noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technique, we analyzed the responses in human area MT with regard to visual motion, color, and luminance contrast sensitivity, and retinotopy. As in previous PET studies, we found that area MT responded selectively to moving (compared to stationary) stimuli. The location of human MT in the present fMRI results is consistent with that of MT in earlier PET and anatomical studies. In addition we found that area MT has a much higher contrast sensitivity than that in several other areas, including primary visual cortex (V1). Functional MRI half-amplitudes in V1 and MT occurred at approximately 15% and 1% luminance contrast, respectively. High sensitivity to contrast and motion in MT have been closely associated with magnocellular stream specialization in nonhuman primates. Human psychophysics indicates that visual motion appears to diminish when moving color-varying stimuli are equated in luminance. Electrophysiological results from macaque MT suggest that the human percept could be due to decreases in firing of area MT cells at equiluminance. We show here that fMRI activity in human MT does in fact decrease at and near individually measured equiluminance. Tests with visuotopically restricted stimuli in each hemifield produced spatial variations in fMRI activity consistent with retinotopy in human homologs of macaque areas V1, V2, V3, and VP. Such activity in area MT appeared much less retinotopic, as in macaque. However, it was possible to measure the interhemispheric spread of fMRI activity in human MT (half amplitude activation across the vertical meridian = approximately 15 degrees).

PMID: 7722658