Perception, action and the cortical visual streams
Over a decade ago Milner and Goodale suggested that perception and action are subserved by two distinct cortical visual streams. The ventral stream projecting from striate cortex to inferotemporal cortex is involved in the perceptual identification of objects. The dorsal stream projecting from striate cortex to posterior parietal cortex is involved in visually guided actions. A series of experiments have been carried out and are presented within this thesis to investigate how various aspects of visuomotor behaviour fit into such a model. A range of techniques were employed, including: (1) behavioural studies with patients with optic ataxia (dorsal stream damage) and visual form agnosia (ventral stream damage); (2) transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in healthy subjects; (3) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy subjects. The following conclusions were made: (1) obstacle avoidance behaviour is impaired in patients with optic ataxia due to damage to the dorsal stream; (2) obstacle avoidance is intact in patients with visual form agnosia as damage is restricted to the ventral stream; (3) obstacle avoidance is mediated by the dorsal stream when an immediate response is required, whereas under delayed conditions the ventral stream comes into play; (4) visual form agnosic patients can use looming information to catch moving objects and they are capable of responding to online perturbations due to an intact dorsal stream; (5) V5 / MT+ is involved in motion processing for perception and action and does not belong exclusively to the dorsal or ventral stream; (6) the dorsal stream is only sensitive to orientation changes if the stimuli are graspable. While some modifications of the original distinction are necessary, the experiments presented within this thesis suggest that this model has, for the most part, withstood the test of time and provides a useful framework for understanding various aspects of perception and action.