The aim of the present positron emission tomography (PET) study was to investigate how visual processing in dorsal and ventral streams depends on the quantitative nature of the task. In the same—different task, participants identified the presence of an orientation difference between two gratings, presented centrally in succession. In the quantification task, participants estimated the magnitude of the difference and compared it to a fixed standard. Detection of dimming of the fixation point was used as a control task. Visual input, motor responses, and performance were equated across tasks. Subtracting same— different from quantification yielded significant activation in the left superior parietal lobule and left ventral premotor cortex, consistent with results obtained in number-processing tasks. The reverse subtraction yielded activation in the right inferior temporal gyrus, in agreement with earlier results. These results demonstrate that a single attribute can be processed either in the ventral or dorsal stream, depending on the cognitive operations required by the tasks.

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