Three-dimensional representations of objects in dorsal cortex are dissociable from those in ventral cortex Academic Article uri icon


  • An established conceptualization of visual cortical function is one in which ventral regions mediate object perception while dorsal regions support spatial information processing and visually guided action. This division has been contested by evidence showing that dorsal regions are also engaged in the representation of object shape, even when actions are not required. The critical question is whether these dorsal, object-based representations are dissociable from ventral representations, and whether they play a functional role in object recognition. We examined the neural and behavioral profile of patients with impairments in object recognition following ventral cortex damage. In a functional magnetic resonanace imaging experiment, the blood oxygen level-dependent response in the ventral, but not dorsal, cortex of the patients evinced less sensitivity to object 3D structure compared with that of healthy controls. Consistently, in psychophysics experiments, the patients exhibited significant impairments in object perception, but still revealed residual sensitivity to object-based structural information. Together, these findings suggest that, although in the intact system there is considerable crosstalk between dorsal and ventral cortices, object representations in dorsal cortex can be computed independently from those in ventral cortex. While dorsal representations alone are unable to support normal object perception, they can, nevertheless, support a coarse description of object structural information.

publication date

  • January 1, 2017