Differential sampling of visual space in ventral and dorsal early visual cortex

Edward H. Silson*, Richard C. Reynolds, Dwight J. Kravitz, Chris I. Baker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A fundamental feature of cortical visual processing is the separation of visual processing for the upper and lower visual fields. In early visual cortex (EVC), the upper visual field is processed ventrally, with the lower visual field processed dorsally. This distinction persists into several category-selective regions of occipitotemporal cortex, with ventral and lateral scene-, face-, and object-selective regions biased for the upper and lower visual fields, respectively. Here, using an elliptical population receptive field (pRF) model, we systematically tested the sampling of visual space within ventral and dorsal divisions of human EVC in both male and female participants. We found that (1) pRFs tend to be elliptical and oriented toward the fovea with distinct angular distributions for ventral and dorsal divisions of EVC, potentially reflecting a radial bias; and (2) pRFs in ventral areas were larger (similar to 1.5X) and more elliptical (similar to 1.2X) than those in dorsal areas. These differences potentially reflect a tendency for receptive fields in ventral temporal cortex to overlap the fovea with less emphasis on precise localization and isotropic representation of space compared with dorsal areas. Collectively, these findings suggest that ventral and dorsal divisions of EVC sample visual space differently, likely contributing to and/or stemming from the functional differentiation of visual processing observed in higher-level regions of the ventral and dorsal cortical visual pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2294-2303
Number of pages10
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018


  • population receptive field modeling
  • retinotopy
  • visual cortex


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