Steering demands rapid responses to heading deviations and uses optic flow to redirect self-movement toward the intended destination. We trained monkeys in a naturalistic steering paradigm and recorded dorsal medial superior temporal area (MSTd) cortical neuronal responses to the visual motion and spatial location cues in optic flow. We found that neuronal responses to the initial heading direction are dominated by the optic flow’s global radial pattern cue. Responses to subsequently imposed heading deviations are dominated by the local direction of motion cue. Finally, as the monkey steers its heading back to the goal location, responses are dominated by the spatial location cue, the screen location of the flow field’s center of motion. We conclude that MSTd responses are not rigidly linked to specific stimuli, but rather are transformed by the task relevance of cues that guide performance in learned, naturalistic behaviors.
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