The direction after-effect is a global motion phenomenon

William Curran, Lee Beattie, Delfina Bilello, Laura A. Coulter, Jade A Currie, Jessica M Pimentel Leon

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Prior experience influences visual perception. For example, extended viewing of a moving stimulus results in the misperception of a subsequent stimulus’s motion direction—the direction after-effect (DAE). There has been an ongoing debate regarding the locus of the neural mechanisms underlying the DAE. We know the mechanisms are cortical, but there is uncertainty about where in the visual cortex they are located—at relatively early local motion processing stages, or at later global motion stages. We used a unikinetic plaid as an adapting stimulus, then measured the DAE experienced with a drifting random dot test stimulus. A unikinetic plaid comprises a static grating superimposed on a drifting grating of a different orientation. Observers cannot see the true motion direction of the moving component; instead they see pattern motion running parallel to the static component. The pattern motion of unikinetic plaids is encoded at the global processing level— specifically, in cortical areas MT and MST—and the local motion component is encoded earlier. We measured the direction after-effect as a function of the plaid’s local and pattern motion directions. The DAE was induced by the plaid’s pattern motion, but not by its component motion. This points to the neural mechanisms underlying the DAE being located at the global motion processing level, and no earlier than area MT
Original languageEnglish
Article number190114
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2019


  • adaptation
  • direction after-effect
  • motion processing
  • visual perception

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