Abstract

We used reversible cooling deactivation to compare the functions of cortices lining the middle suprasylvian (MS) sulcus and forming the ventral portion of the posterior suprasylvian (vPS) gyrus. A battery of attentional, motion and mnemonic processing tasks were used and performance was examined during deactivation of each region. The results show a clear dissociation of functions. Deactivation of MS cortex resulted in profound deficits on a visual orienting task and on the discrimination of direction of motion, whereas deactivation of vPS cortex severely impaired both retention and learning of novel and overlearned object discriminations. In addition, deactivation of either MS or vPS cortex impaired discrimination of learned patterns when components of the patterns were in motion, whereas only deactivation of vPS cortex impaired the discrimination when all components were static. Together, these results show that a region of parietal cortex contributes to the processing of visual motion and to attentional processes, whereas a region of temporal cortex contributes to the learning and recognition of three-dimensional objects and two-dimensional patterns. This functional dissociation is linked to differences in underlying visual pathways, which have many features in common with the parietal and temporal visual processing streams previously identified in monkeys and humans. Furthermore, the broad similarity in neural operations carried out in parietal and temporal cortices of cats, monkeys and humans suggests the existence of a common plan for cortical processing machinery within mammals with well developed cerebral cortices.