Abstract

An evolving view in cognitive neuroscience is that the dorsal visual pathway not only plays a key role in visuomotor behavior but that it also contributes functionally to the recognition of objects. To characterize the nature of the object representations derived by the dorsal pathway, we assessed perceptual performance in the context of the continuous flash suppression paradigm, which suppresses object processing in the ventral pathway while sparing computation in the dorsal pathway. In a series of experiments, prime stimuli, which were rendered imperceptible by the continuous flash suppression, still contributed to perceptual decisions related to the subsequent perceptible target stimuli. However, the contribution of the prime to perception was contingent on the prime's structural coherence, in that a perceptual advantage was observed only for targets primed by objects with legitimate 3-D structure. Finally, we obtained additional evidence to demonstrate that the processing of the suppressed objects was contingent on the magnocellular, rather than the parvocellular, system, further linking the processing of the suppressed stimuli to the dorsal pathway. Together, these results provide novel evidence that the dorsal pathway does not only support visuomotor control but, rather, that it also derives the structural description of 3-D objects and contributes to shape perception.

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