We examined a stroke patient (HWS) with a unilateral lesion of the right medial ventral visual stream, involving the right fusiform and parahippocampal gyri. In a number of object recognition tests with lateralized presentations of target stimuli, HWS showed significant symptoms of hemiagnosia with contralesional recognition deficits for everyday objects. We further explored the patient's capacities of visual expertise that were acquired before the current perceptual impairment became effective. We confronted him with objects he was an expert for already before stroke onset and compared this performance with the recognition of familiar everyday objects. HWS was able to identify significantly more of the specific (“expert”) than of the everyday objects on the affected contralesional side. This observation of better expert object recognition in visual hemiagnosia allows for several interpretations. The results may be caused by enhanced information processing for expert objects in the ventral system in the affected or the intact hemisphere. Expert knowledge could trigger top–down mechanisms supporting object recognition despite of impaired basic functions of object processing. More importantly, the current work demonstrates that top–down mechanisms of visual expertise influence object recognition at an early stage, probably before visual object information propagates to modules of higher object recognition. Because HWS showed a lesion to the fusiform gyrus and spared capacities of expert object recognition, the current study emphasizes possible contributions of areas outside the ventral stream to visual expertise.

You do not currently have access to this content.