Visual processing of complex objects is supported by the ventral visual pathway in the service of object identification and by the dorsal visual pathway in the service of object-directed reaching and grasping. Here, we address how these two streams interact during tool processing, by exploiting the known asymmetry in projections of subcortical magnocellular and parvocellular inputs to the dorsal and ventral streams. The ventral visual pathway receives both parvocellular and magnocellular input, whereas the dorsal visual pathway receives largely magnocellular input. We used fMRI to measure tool preferences in parietal cortex when the images were presented at either high or low temporal frequencies, exploiting the fact that parvocellular channels project principally to the ventral but not dorsal visual pathway. We reason that regions of parietal cortex that exhibit tool preferences for stimuli presented at frequencies characteristic of the parvocellular pathway receive their inputs from the ventral stream. We found that the left inferior parietal lobule, in the vicinity of the supramarginal gyrus, exhibited tool preferences for images presented at low temporal frequencies, whereas superior and posterior parietal regions exhibited tool preferences for images present at high temporal frequencies. These data indicate that object identity, processed within the ventral stream, is communicated to the left inferior parietal lobule and may there combine with inputs from the dorsal visual pathway to allow for functionally appropriate object manipulation.

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