The primate visual cortex exhibits a remarkable degree of interconnectivity. Each visual area receives an average of 10 to 15 inputs, many of them from cortical areas with overlapping, but not identical, functional properties. In this study, we assessed the functional significance of this anatomical parallelism to the middle temporal area (MT) of the macaque visual cortex. MT receives major feedforward inputs from areas V1, V2, and V3, but little is known about the properties of each of these pathways. We previously demonstrated that reversible inactivation of V2 and V3 causes a disproportionate degradation of tuning for binocular disparity of MT neurons, relative to direction tuning (Ponce et al., 2008). Here we show that MT neurons continued to encode speed and size information during V2/3 inactivation; however, many became significantly less responsive to fast speeds and others showed a modest decrease in surround suppression. These changes resemble previously reported effects of reducing stimulus contrast (Pack et al., 2005; Krekelberg et al., 2006), but we show here that they differ in their temporal dynamics. We find no evidence that the indirect pathways selectively target different functional regions within MT. Overall, our findings suggest that the indirect pathways to MT primarily convey modality-specific information on binocular disparity, but that they also contribute to the processing of stimuli moving at fast speeds.
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