Task-specific recruitment of dorsal and ventral visual areas during tactile perception

Neuropsychologia. 2004;42(8):1079-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2003.12.013.


Many studies have found that visual cortical areas are active during tactile perception. Here we used positron emission tomographic (PET) scanning in normally sighted humans to show that extrastriate cortical regions are recruited in a task-specific manner during perceptual processing of tactile stimuli varying in two dimensions. Mental rotation of tactile Forms activated a focus around the anterior part of the left intraparietal sulcus. Since prior studies have reported activity nearby during mental rotation of visual stimuli, this focus appears to be associated with the dorsal visual (visuospatial) pathway. Discrimination between tactile Forms activated the right lateral occipital complex, an object-selective region in the ventral visual (visual Form) pathway. Thus, tactile tasks appear to recruit cortical regions that are active during corresponding visual tasks. Activation of these areas in both visual and tactile tasks could reflect visual imagery during tactile perception, activity in multisensory representations, or both.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Occipital Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Stereognosis / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Pathways / physiology