How do the two visual streams interact with each other?

Exp Brain Res. 2017 May;235(5):1297-1308. doi: 10.1007/s00221-017-4917-4. Epub 2017 Mar 2.


The current consensus divides primate cortical visual processing into two broad networks or "streams" composed of highly interconnected areas (Milner and Goodale 2006, 2008; Goodale 2014). The ventral stream, passing from primary visual cortex (V1) through to inferior parts of the temporal lobe, is considered to mediate the transformation of the contents of the visual signal into the mental furniture that guides memory, recognition and conscious perception. In contrast the dorsal stream, passing from V1 through to various areas in the posterior parietal lobe, is generally considered to mediate the visual guidance of action, primarily in real time. The brain, however, does not work through mutually insulated subsystems, and indeed there are well-documented interconnections between the two streams. Evidence for contributions from ventral stream systems to the dorsal stream comes from human neuropsychological and neuroimaging research, and indicates a crucial role in mediating complex and flexible visuomotor skills. Complementary evidence points to a role for posterior dorsal-stream visual analysis in certain aspects of 3-D perceptual function in the ventral stream. A series of studies of a patient with visual form agnosia has been instrumental in shaping our knowledge of what each stream can achieve in isolation; but it has also helped us to tease apart the relative dependence of parietal visuomotor systems on direct bottom-up visual inputs versus inputs redirected via perceptual systems within the ventral stream.

Keywords: Cortex; Dorsal; Streams; Ventral; Visual.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuropsychology
  • Visual Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*