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J Neurosci. 2009 Apr 22;29(16):5336-42. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4978-08.2009.

Dorsal-ventral integration in the recognition of motion-defined unfamiliar faces.

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Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B1, Canada.


The primate visual system is organized into two parallel anatomical pathways, both originating in early visual areas but terminating in posterior parietal or inferior temporal regions. Classically, these two pathways have been thought to subserve spatial vision and visual guided actions (dorsal pathway) and object identification (ventral pathway). However, evidence is accumulating that dorsal visual areas may also represent many aspects of object shape in absence of demands for attention or action. Dorsal visual areas exhibit selectivity for three-dimensional cues of depth and are considered necessary for the extraction of surfaces from depth cues and can carry out cognitive functions with such cues as well. These results suggest that dorsal visual areas may participate in object recognition, but it is unclear to what capacity. Here, we tested whether three-dimensional structure-from-motion (SFM) cues, thought to be computed exclusively by dorsal stream mechanisms, are sufficient to drive complex object recognition. We then tested whether recognition of such stimuli relies on dorsal stream mechanisms alone, or whether dorsal-ventral integration is invoked. Results suggest that such cues are sufficient to drive unfamiliar face recognition in normal participants and that ventral stream areas are necessary for both identification and learning of unfamiliar faces from SFM cues.

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