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Coding of self-motion-induced and self-independent visual motion in the rat dorsomedial striatum

by Anett J. Nagy, Yuichi Takeuchi, Antal Berényi

Evolutionary development of vision has provided us with the capacity to detect moving objects. Concordant shifts of visual features suggest movements of the observer, whereas discordant changes are more likely to be indicating independently moving objects, such as predators or prey. Such distinction helps us to focus attention, adapt our behavior, and adjust our motor patterns to meet behavioral challenges. However, the neural basis of distinguishing self-induced and self-independent visual motions is not clarified in unrestrained animals yet. In this study, we investigated the presence and origin of motion-related visual information in the striatum of rats, a hub of action selection and procedural memory. We found that while almost half of the neurons in the dorsomedial striatum are sensitive to visual motion congruent with locomotion (and that many of them also code for spatial location), only a small subset of them are composed of fast-firing interneurons that could also perceive self-independent visual stimuli. These latter cells receive their visual input at least partially from the secondary visual cortex (V2). This differential visual sensitivity may be an important support in adjusting behavior to salient environmental events. It emphasizes the importance of investigating visual motion perception in unrestrained animals.

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