Although shape perception is primarily considered a function of the ventral visual pathway, previous research has shown that both dorsal and ventral pathways represent shape information. Here, we examine whether the shape-selective electrophysiological signals observed in dorsal cortex are a product of the connectivity to ventral cortex or are independently computed. We conducted multiple EEG studies in which we manipulated the input parameters of the stimuli so as to bias processing to either the dorsal or ventral visual pathway. Participants viewed displays of common objects with shape information parametrically degraded across five levels. We measured shape sensitivity by regressing the amplitude of the evoked signal against the degree of stimulus scrambling. Experiment 1, which included grayscale versions of the stimuli, served as a benchmark establishing the temporal pattern of shape processing during typical object perception. These stimuli evoked broad and sustained patterns of shape sensitivity beginning as early as 50 msec after stimulus onset. In Experiments 2 and 3, we calibrated the stimuli such that visual information was delivered primarily through parvocellular inputs, which mainly project to the ventral pathway, or through koniocellular inputs, which mainly project to the dorsal pathway. In the second and third experiments, shape sensitivity was observed, but in distinct spatio-temporal configurations from each other and from that elicited by grayscale inputs. Of particular interest, in the koniocellular condition, shape selectivity emerged earlier than in the parvocellular condition. These findings support the conclusion of distinct dorsal pathway computations of object shape, independent from the ventral pathway.

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