The dorsal “action” pathway Chapter uri icon

Book Title

  • The Parietal Lobe


  • In 1992, Goodale and Milner proposed a division of labor in the visual pathways of the primate cerebral cortex. According to their account, the ventral pathway, which projects to occipitotemporal cortex, constructs our visual percepts, while the dorsal pathway, which projects to posterior parietal cortex, mediates the visual control of action. Although the framing of the two-visual-system hypothesis has not been without controversy, it is clear that vision for action and vision for perception have distinct computational requirements, and significant support for the proposed neuroanatomic division has continued to emerge over the last two decades from human neuropsychology, neuroimaging, behavioral psychophysics, and monkey neurophysiology. In this chapter, we review much of this evidence, with a particular focus on recent findings from human neuroimaging and monkey neurophysiology, demonstrating a specialized role for parietal cortex in visually guided behavior. But even though the available evidence suggests that dedicated circuits mediate action and perception, in order to produce adaptive goal-directed behavior there must be a close coupling and seamless integration of information processing across these two systems. We discuss such ventral-dorsal-stream interactions and argue that the two pathways play different, yet complementary, roles in the production of skilled behavior.

publication date

  • 2018