The role of the primary visual cortex in higher level vision

Vision Res. 1998 Aug;38(15-16):2429-54. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(97)00464-1.


In the classical feed-forward, modular view of visual processing, the primary visual cortex (area V1) is a module that serves to extract local features such as edges and bars. Representation and recognition of objects are thought to be functions of higher extrastriate cortical areas. This paper presents neurophysiological data that show the later part of V1 neurons' responses reflecting higher order perceptual computations related to Ullman's (Cognition 1984; 18:97-159) visual routines and Marr's (Vision NJ: Freeman 1982) full primal sketch, 2 1/2D sketch and 3D model. Based on theoretical reasoning and the experimental evidence, we propose a possible reinterpretation of the functional role of V1. In this framework, because of V1 neurons' precise encoding of orientation and spatial information, higher level perceptual computations and representations that involve high resolution details, fine geometry and spatial precision would necessarily involve V1 and be reflected in the later part of its neurons' activities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cues
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Fovea Centralis / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Saccades
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*