Do visual illusions probe the visual brain? Illusions in action without a dorsal visual stream.
Abstract: Visual illusions have been shown to affect perceptual judgements more so than motor behaviour, which was interpreted as evidence for a functional division of labour within the visual system. The dominant perception-action theory argues that perception involves a holistic processing of visual objects or scenes, performed within the ventral, inferior temporal cortex. Conversely, visuomotor action involves the processing of the 3D relationship between the goal of the action and the body, performed predominantly within the dorsal, posterior parietal cortex. We explored the effect of well-known visual illusions (a size-contrast illusion and the induced Roelofs effect) in a patient (IG) suffering bilateral lesions of the dorsal visual stream. According to the perception-action theory, IG's perceptual judgements and control of actions should rely on the intact ventral stream and hence should both be sensitive to visual illusions. The finding that IG performed similarly to controls in three different illusory contexts argues against such expectations and shows, furthermore, that the dorsal stream does not control all aspects of visuomotor behaviour. Assuming that the patient's dorsal stream visuomotor system is fully lesioned, these results suggest that her visually guided action can be planned and executed independently of the dorsal pathways, possibly through the inferior parietal lobule.
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