Disparity selectivity of neurons in monkey inferior temporal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 2000 Jul;84(1):120-32. doi: 10.1152/jn.2000.84.1.120.


The inferior temporal cortex (IT) of the monkey, a final stage in the ventral visual pathway, has been known to process information on two-dimensional (2-D) shape, color, and texture. On the other hand, the dorsal visual pathway leading to the posterior parietal cortex has been known to process information on location in space. Likewise, neurons selective for binocular disparity, which convey information on depth, have been found mainly in areas along the dorsal visual pathway. Here, we report that many neurons in the IT are also selective for binocular disparity. We recorded extracellular activity from IT neurons and found that more than half of the neurons changed their response depending on the disparity added. The change was not attributed to monocular responses or eye movements. Most neurons selective for disparity were "near" or "far" cells; they preferred either crossed or uncrossed disparity, and only a small population was tuned to zero disparity. Disparity-selective neurons were also selective for shape. Most preferred the same type of disparity irrespective of the shape presented. Disparity preference was also invariant for the fronto-parallel translation of the stimuli in most of the neurons. Finally, nearby neurons exhibited similar disparity selectivity, suggesting the existence of a functional module for processing of binocular disparity in the IT. From the above and our recent findings, we suggest that the IT integrates shape and binocular disparity information, and plays an important role in the reconstruction of three-dimensional (3-D) surfaces.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Depth Perception / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Macaca
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Temporal Lobe / cytology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Vision, Binocular / physiology
  • Vision, Monocular / physiology