Studies of multisensory integration by single neurons have traditionally emphasized empirical principles that describe nonlinear interactions between inputs from two sensory modalities. We previously proposed that many of these empirical principles could be explained by a divisive normalization mechanism operating in brain regions where multisensory integration occurs. This normalization model makes a critical diagnostic prediction: a non-preferred sensory input from one modality, which activates the neuron on its own, should suppress the response to a preferred input from another modality. We tested this prediction by recording from neurons in macaque area MSTd that integrate visual and vestibular cues regarding self-motion. We show that many MSTd neurons exhibit the diagnostic form of cross-modal suppression, whereas unisensory neurons in area MT do not. The normalization model also fits population responses better than a model based on subtractive inhibition. These findings provide strong support for a divisive normalization mechanism in multisensory integration.
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