Normal form from biological motion despite impaired ventral stream function

S. Gilaie-Dotan, S. Bentin, M. Harel, G. Rees, A. P. Saygin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We explored the extent to which biological motion perception depends on ventral stream integration by studying LG, an unusual case of developmental visual agnosia. LG has significant ventral stream processing deficits but no discernable structural cortical abnormality. LG's intermediate visual areas and object-sensitive regions exhibit abnormal activation during visual object perception, in contrast to area V5/MT+ which responds normally to visual motion (Gilaie-Dotan, Perry, Bonneh, Malach, & Bentin, 2009). Here, in three studies we used point light displays, which require visual integration, in adaptive threshold experiments to examine LG's ability to detect form from biological and non-biological motion cues. LG's ability to detect and discriminate form from biological motion was similar to healthy controls. In contrast, he was significantly deficient in processing form from non-biological motion. Thus, LG can rely on biological motion cues to perceive human forms, but is considerably impaired in extracting form from non-biological motion. Finally, we found that while LG viewed biological motion, activity in a network of brain regions associated with processing biological motion was functionally correlated with his V5/MT+ activity, indicating that normal inputs from V5/MT+ might suffice to activate his action perception system. These results indicate that processing of biologically moving form can dissociate from other form processing in the ventral pathway. Furthermore, the present results indicate that integrative ventral stream processing is necessary for uncompromised processing of non-biological form from motion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1043
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by a European Commission Marie-Curie fellowship to S.G.-D., RO1 MH 64458 to S.B., the Wellcome Trust (G.R.) and a European Commission Marie Curie fellowship FP6-025044 to A.P.S. We thank LG and his family for outstandingly friendly cooperation, Jennifer Cook and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore for help with acquiring some of the controls’ data and Marlene Behrmann for helpful suggestions.


  • Biological motion
  • Form agnosia
  • Form from motion
  • Point-light displays
  • Ventral visual stream


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