Assessing direction-specific adaptation using the steady-state visual evoked potential: results from EEG source imaging

Justin M Ales, Anthony M Norcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Studying directional selectivity using neuroimaging in humans is difficult because the resolution is insufficient to directly access directionally selective activity. Here we used motion adaptation of the steady-state visual evoked potential (SSVEP) and source imaging in the frequency domain to detect brain areas that contain direction-selective cells. This study uses a definitive electrophysiological marker for direction-specific adaptation in the SSVEP to localize cortical areas that are direction selective. It has been shown previously that an oscillating stimulus produces an SSVEP response that is dominated by even harmonics of the stimulus frequency. This pattern of response is consistent with equal population responses to each direction of motion. Prolonged exposure to unidirectional motion induces an asymmetry in the population response that is consistent with adaptation of direction-selective cells. This asymmetry manifests itself in the presence of odd harmonic components after adaptation Critically, the feature that indicates the direction used for adaptation is the phase of the odd-harmonic responses. We recorded this signature of direction selectivity in a group of observers whose retinotopic visual areas had been defined from fMRI mapping. We find direction-specific responses throughout retinotopic cortex, with the largest effect in areas V1 (occipital pole) and V3/V3a (dorsal).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Female
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception
  • Occipital Lobe
  • Orientation
  • Retina
  • Visual Cortex


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