Visual motion serves but is not under the purview of the dorsal pathway

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27 Scopus citations


Visual motion processing is often attributed to the dorsal visual pathway despite visual motion's involvement in almost all visual functions. Furthermore, some visual motion tasks critically depend on the structural integrity of regions outside the dorsal pathway. Here, based on numerous studies, I propose that visual motion signals are swiftly transmitted via multiple non-hierarchical routes to primary motion-dedicated processing regions (MT/V5 and MST) that are not part of the dorsal pathway, and then propagated to a multiplicity of brain areas according to task demands, reaching these regions earlier than the dorsal/ventral hierarchical flow. This not only places MT/V5 at the same or even earlier visual processing stage as that of V1, but can also elucidate many findings with implications to visual awareness. While the integrity of the non-hierarchical motion pathway is necessary for all visual motion perception, it is insufficient on its own, and the transfer of visual motion signals to additional brain areas is crucial to allow the different motion perception tasks (e.g. optic flow, visuo-vestibular balance, movement observation, dynamic form detection and perception, and even reading). I argue that this lateral visual motion pathway can be distinguished from the dorsal pathway not only based on faster response latencies and distinct anatomical connections, but also based on its full field representation. I also distinguish between this primary lateral visual motion pathway sensitive to all motion in the visual field, and a much less investigated optic flow sensitive medial processing pathway (from V1 to V6 and V6A) that appears to be part of the dorsal pathway. Multiple additional predictions are provided that allow testing this proposal and distinguishing between the visual pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-392
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author


  • Action and perception pathways
  • MT/V5
  • Motion perception
  • Motion processing
  • V6 complex
  • Visual hierarchy
  • Visual movement
  • Visual system
  • Where and what pathways


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