Human V6: Functional characterisation and localisation

Velia Cardin, Rachael Sherrington, Lara Hemsworth, Andrew T. Smith

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Human visual area V6, in the parieto-occipital sulcus, is thought to have an important role in the extraction of optic flow for the monitoring and guidance of self-motion (egomotion) because it responds differentially to egomotion-compatible optic flow when compared to: (a) coherent but egomotion-incompatible flow (Cardin & Smith, 2010), and (b) incoherent motion (Pitzalis et al., 2010). It is not clear, however, whether V6 responds more strongly to egomotion-incompatible global motion than to incoherent motion. This is relevant not only for determining the functional properties of V6, but also in order to choose optimal stimuli for localising V6 accurately with fMRI. Localisation with retinotopic mapping is difficult and there is a need for a simple, reliable method. We conducted an event-related 3T fMRI experiment in which participants viewed a display of dots which either: a) followed a time-varying optic flow trajectory in a single, egomotion-compatible (EC) display; b) formed an egomotion-incompatible (EI) 3 × 3 array of optic flow patches; or c) moved randomly (RM). Results from V6 show an ordering of response magnitudes: EC > EI > RM. Neighbouring areas V3A and V7 responded more strongly to EC than to RM, but about equally to EC and EI. Our results suggest that although V6 may have a general role in the extraction of global motion, in clear contrast to neighbouring motion areas it is especially concerned with encoding EC stimuli. They suggest two strategies for localising V6: (1) contrasting EC and EI; or (2) contrasting EC and RM, which is more sensitive but carries a risk of including voxels from neighbouring regions that also show a EC > RM preference.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47685
JournalPLoS One
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2012

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