Cortical motion analysis continuously encodes image velocity but might also be used to predict future patterns of sensory input along the motion path. We asked whether this predictive aspect of motion is exploited by the human visual system. Targets can be more easily detected at the leading as compared to the trailing edge of motion , but this effect has been attributed to a nonspecific boost in contrast gain at the leading edge, linked to motion-induced shifts in spatial position [1, 2, 3 and 4]. Here we show that the detectability of a local sinusoidal target presented at the ends of a region containing motion is phase dependent at the leading edge, but not at the trailing edge. These two observations rule out a simple gain control mechanism that modulates contrast energy and passive filtering explanations, respectively. By manipulating the relative orientation of the moving pattern and target, we demonstrate that the resulting spatial variation in detection threshold along the edge closely resembles the superposition of sensory input and an internally generated predicted signal. These findings show that motion induces a forward prediction of spatial pattern that combines with the cortical representation of the future stimulus.
Roach, N. W., McGraw, P. V., & Johnston, A. (2011). Visual motion induces a forward prediction of spatial pattern. Current Biology, 21(9), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.031