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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

October 2018, Vol. 30, No. 10, Pages 1517-1531
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01298)
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Decoupling of Early V5 Motion Processing from Visual Awareness: A Matter of Velocity as Revealed by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
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Motion information can reach V5/MT through two parallel routes: one conveying information at early latencies through a direct subcortical route and the other reaching V5 later via recurrent projections through V1. Here, we tested the hypothesis that input via the faster direct pathway depends on motion characteristics. To this end, we presented motion stimuli to healthy human observers at different velocities (4.4°/sec vs. 23°/sec) with static stimuli as controls while applying transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) pulses over V5 or V1. We probed for TMS interference with objective (two-alternative forced choice [2AFC]) and subjective (awareness) measures of motion processing at six TMS delays from stimulus onset (poststimulus window covered: ∼27–160 msec). Our results for V5–TMS showed earlier interference with objective performance for fast motion (53.3 msec) than slow motion (80 msec) stimuli. Importantly, TMS-induced decreases in objective measures of motion processing did correlate with decreases in subjective measures for slow but not fast motion stimuli. Moreover, V1–TMS induced a temporally unspecific interference with visual processing as it impaired the processing of both motion and static stimuli at the same delays. These results are in accordance with fast moving stimuli reaching V5 through a different route than slow moving stimuli. The differential latencies and coupling to awareness suggest distinct involvement of a direct (i.e., colliculo-extrastriate) connection bypassing V1 depending on stimulus velocity (fast vs. slow). Implication of a direct pathway in the early processing of fast motion may have evolved through its behavioral relevance.