Recent studies have reported an attentional feedback that highlights neural responses as early along the visual pathway as the primary visual cortex. Such filtering would help in reducing informational overload and in performing serial visual search by directing attention to individual locations in the visual field. The magnocellular (M) and parvocellular (P) subdivisions are two of the major parallel pathways in primate vision that originate in the retina and carry distinctly different types of information. The M pathway, characterized by its high sensitivity to movement and to low contrast stimuli, forms the predominant visual input into the dorsal, parietal stream in the neocortex. The P inputs, characterized by their colour selectivity and higher spatial resolution, are channeled mainly into the ventral, temporal stream. It is proposed that the attentional spotlight originates in the dorsal stream and helps in serially searching the field for conjunction of the relevant target features in the temporal stream, effectively performing a gating function on all visual inputs. This model predicts that a defect limited to the magnocellular or the dorsal pathway can lead to widespread deficits in cognitive abilities, including those functions that are largely based on parvocellular information. For example, the model provides a neural mechanism linking a peripheral defect in the magnocellular pathway to the reading disabilities in dyslexia. Even though there has been strong evidence for a magnocellular deficit in dyslexia, the paradox has been that the cognitive disability seems to be related to P pathway function. The scheme proposed here shows how M input may be vital for controlling sequential attention during reading.
Brain Research Reviews – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 1999
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