Several models of heading detection during smooth pursuit rely on the assumption of local constraint line tuning to exist in large scale motion detection templates. A motion detector that exhibits pure constraint line tuning responds maximally to any 2D-velocity in the set of vectors that can be decomposed into the central, or classic, preferred velocity (the shortest vector that still yields the maximum response) and any vector orthogonal to that. To test this assumption, we measured the firing rates of isolated middle temporal (MT) and medial superior temporal (MST) neurons to random dot stimuli moving in a range of directions and speeds. We found that as a function of 2D velocity, the pooled responses were best fit with a 2D Gaussian profile with a factor of elongation, orthogonal to the central preferred velocity, of roughly 1.5 for MST and 1.7 for MT. This means that MT and MST cells are more sharply tuned for speed than they are for direction; and that they indeed show some level of constraint line tuning. However, we argue that the observed elongation is insufficient to achieve behavioral heading discrimination accuracy on the order of 1-2 degrees as reported before. © 2013 Duijnhouwer, Noest, Lankheet, van den Berg and van Wezel.
Duijnhouwer, J., Noest, A. J., Lankheet, M. J. M., van den Berg, A. V., & van Wezel, R. J. A. (2013). Speed and direction response profiles of neurons in macaque MT and MST show modest constraint line tuning. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00022