3D visual response properties of MSTd emerge from an efficient, sparse population code

Using a dimensionality reduction technique known as non-negative matrix factorization, we found that a variety of medial superior temporal (MSTd) neural response properties could be derived from MT-like input features. The responses that emerge from this technique, such as 3D translation and rotation selectivity, spiral tuning, and heading selectivity, can account for a number of empirical results. These findings (1) provide a further step toward a scientific understanding of the often nonintuitive response properties of MSTd neurons; (2) suggest that response properties, such as complex motion tuning and heading selectivity, might simply be a byproduct of MSTd neurons performing dimensionality reduction on their inputs; and (3) imply that motion perception in the cortex is consistent with ideas from the efficient-coding and free-energy principles.