Abstract

Anatomical and physiological investigations indicate two major distinct functional streams within the extrastriate visual cortex of the macaque monkey, and behavioral observations suggest that the ventral (occipitotemporal) pathway is the cornerstone for object recognition whereas the dorsal (occipitoparietal) pathway is primarily involved in visuospatial perception and visuomotor performance. In the context of this dichotomy we conducted a psychophysical and neuropsychological study of visual perceptual abilities in two stroke patients, each with lesions involving several extrastriate areas. Magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated bilateral lesions; in one patient (E.W.) the lesion involves the ventral medial portions of the occipital and temporal lobes, and in the other (A.F.) the lesion involves dorsally the occipital-parietal area, including the region of the temporal-parietal-occipital junction. E.W. suffers from achromatopsia of central origin, prosopagnosia, visual agnosia, and alexia without agraphia. His depth and motion perception, including recognition of moving objects, are normal. He has superior visual field loss bilaterally, and slightly impaired acuity, and complains that the world appears in a deep twilight even on a sunny day. In contrast, A.F. shows specific deficits of stereopsis, spatial localization, and several aspects of motion perception. He is also impaired at recognizing objects presented from unconventional views, but recognition of prototypical views of objects, and color and form discrimination are normal, as is his ability to recognize faces.

The anatomical characteristics of the lesions of these two patients permit a direct experimental comparison of the effects of lesions confined to the parietal or temporal pathways. E.W.'s and A.F.'s performance on the psychophysical and neuropsychological tasks discussed here supports the functional distinction between a dorsal and a ventral extrastriate system but additionally suggests the existence of a pathway involved in identification-from-motion that is separate from both the dorsal early motion/spatial analysis pathway and the ventral color/static-form pathway.

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