Opposite neural signatures of motion-induced blindness in human dorsal and ventral visual cortex

Tobias H. Donner, Dov Sagi, Yoram S. Bonneh, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Motion-induced blindness (MIB) is a visual phenomenon in which a salient static target spontaneously fluctuates in and out of visual awareness when surrounded by a moving mask pattern. It has been hypothesized that MIB reflects an antagonistic interplay between cortical representations of the static target and moving mask. Here, we report evidence for such antagonism between human ventral and dorsal visual cortex during MIB. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) responses in ventral visual area V4 decreased with the subjective disappearance of the target. These response decreases were specific for the cortical subregion corresponding retinotopically to the target, occurred early in time with respect to the perceptual report, and could not be explained by shifts of attention in reaction to target disappearance. At the same time, responses increased in mask-specific subregions in dorsal visual areas in and around the intraparietal sulcus. These opposite responses in ventral and dorsal visual areas occurred only during subjective target disappearance, not when the target was physically removed. Perceptual reports of target disappearance were furthermore associated with a "global" modulation of activity, which was delayed in time, and evident throughout early visual cortex, for both subjective target disappearance and physical target removal. We conclude that awareness of the target is tightly linked to the strength of its representation in ventral visual cortex, and that the mask representation in dorsal visual cortex plays a crucial role in the spontaneous suppression of the target representation during MIB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10298-10310
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number41
StatePublished - 8 Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bistable perception
  • IPS
  • V3A
  • V4
  • Visual cortex
  • fMRI


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