What Role Does “Elongation” Play in “Tool-Specific” Activation and Connectivity in the Dorsal and Ventral Visual Streams? Academic Article uri icon


  • Images of tools induce stronger activation than images of nontools in a left-lateralized network that includes ventral-stream areas implicated in tool identification and dorsal-stream areas implicated in tool manipulation. Importantly, however, graspable tools tend to be elongated rather than stubby, and so the tool-selective responses in some of these areas may, to some extent, reflect sensitivity to elongation rather than "toolness" per se. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the role of elongation in driving tool-specific activation in the 2 streams and their interconnections. We showed that in some "tool-selective" areas, the coding of toolness and elongation coexisted, but in others, elongation and toolness were coded independently. Psychophysiological interaction analysis revealed that toolness, but not elongation, had a strong modulation of the connectivity between the ventral and dorsal streams. Dynamic causal modeling revealed that viewing tools (either elongated or stubby) increased the connectivity from the ventral- to the dorsal-stream tool-selective areas, but only viewing elongated tools increased the reciprocal connectivity between these areas. Overall, these data disentangle how toolness and elongation affect the activation and connectivity of the tool network and help to resolve recent controversies regarding the relative contribution of "toolness" versus elongation in driving dorsal-stream "tool-selective" areas.

publication date

  • 2018