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Testing the dorsal stream attention hypothesis: Electrophysiological correlates and the effects of ventral stream damage

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The roles of dorsal and ventral processing streams in visual orienting and conscious perception were examined in two experiments. The first employed high density EEG with source localization. The second comprised a neuropsychological case study. Visual orienting was assessed with an attention procedure, where peripheral letters cued participants towards a target location. In the perception procedure participants responded to the same letters by performing an explicit conscious discrimination. In Experiment 1, the peripheral letters elicited rapid dorsal stream activation in the attention procedure, and this activation preceded top-down enhancement of target processing in occipital cortex. In the perception procedure early ventral stream activation was seen. In addition, peripheral letters elicited an “early directing attention negativity” (EDAN) over parietal recording sites in the attention procedure, but not in the perception procedure. In Experiment 2, a patient with a bilateral ventral stream lesion but preserved dorsal stream function showed clear disruption to performance in the perception procedure, whilst exhibiting a normal visual orienting effect in the attention procedure. Taken together these findings (1) highlight the distinct roles of the dorsal and ventral streams in attention and perception, and (2) suggest how these streams might interact, via reentrant effects of attention on perceptual processing.
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Keywords: Attention; Dorsal stream; Ventral stream; Visual orienting; Visual perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Research Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology,University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 2: Laboratory of Experimental Psychology,University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium 3: School of Psychology,University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK 4: Department of Psychology,University of Durham, Durham, UK

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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