Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
We report here two cases of two young diplegic patients with cystic periventricular leukomalacia who systematically, and with high sensitivity, perceive translational motion of a random-dot display in the opposite direction. The apparent inversion was specific for translation motion: Rotation and expansion motion were perceived correctly, with normal sensitivity. It was also specific for random-dot patterns, not occurring with gratings. For the one patient that we were able to test extensively, contrast sensitivity for static stimuli was normal, but was very low for direction discrimination at high spatial frequencies and all temporal frequencies. His optokinetic nystagmus movements were normal but he was unable to track a single translating target, indicating a perceptual origin of the tracking deficit. The severe deficit for motion perception was also evident in the seminatural situation of a driving simulation video game. The perceptual deficit for translational motion was reinforced by functional magnetic resonance imaging studies. Translational motion elicited no response in the MT complex, although it did produce a strong response in many visual areas when contrasted with blank stimuli. However, radial and rotational motion produced a normal pattern of activation in a subregion of the MT complex. These data reinforce the existent evidence for independent cortical processing for translational, and circular or radial flow motion, and further suggest that the two systems have different vulnerability and plasticity to prenatal damage. They also highlight the complexity of visual motion perception, and how the delicate balance of neural activity can lead to paradoxical effects such as consistent misperception of the direction of motion. We advance a possible explanation of a reduced spatial sampling of the motion stimuli and report a simple model that simulates well the experimental results.