'What' Is Happening in the Dorsal Visual Pathway

Trends Cogn Sci. 2016 Oct;20(10):773-784. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2016.08.003. Epub 2016 Sep 5.


The cortical visual system is almost universally thought to be segregated into two anatomically and functionally distinct pathways: a ventral occipitotemporal pathway that subserves object perception, and a dorsal occipitoparietal pathway that subserves object localization and visually guided action. Accumulating evidence from both human and non-human primate studies, however, challenges this binary distinction and suggests that regions in the dorsal pathway contain object representations that are independent of those in ventral cortex and that play a functional role in object perception. We review here the evidence implicating dorsal object representations, and we propose an account of the anatomical organization, functional contributions, and origins of these representations in the service of perception.

Keywords: cortical vision; dorsal pathway; object recognition; ventral pathway; visual perception.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Perception*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology