Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 153, Issue 2, pp 146–157 | Cite as

Two different streams form the dorsal visual system: anatomy and functions

  • Giacomo Rizzolatti
  • Massimo Matelli


There are two radically different views on the functional role of the dorsal visual stream. One considers it as a system involved in space perception. The other is of a system that codes visual information for action organization. On the basis of new anatomical data and a reconsideration of previous functional and clinical data, we propose that the dorsal stream and its recipient parietal areas form two distinct functional systems: the dorso-dorsal stream (d-d stream) and the ventro-dorsal stream (v-d stream). The d-d stream is formed by area V6 (main d-d extrastriate visual node) and areas V6A and MIP of the superior parietal lobule. Its major functional role is the control of actions "on line". Its damage leads to optic ataxia. The v-d stream is formed by area MT (main v-d extrastriate visual node) and by the visual areas of the inferior parietal lobule. As the d-d stream, v-d stream is responsible for action organization. It, however, also plays a crucial role in space perception and action understanding. The putative mechanisms linking action and perception in the v-d stream is discussed.


Dorsal visual stream Parietal lobe Action Perception 



We are grateful to Giuseppe Luppino for his help and critical discussion of the manuscript. This study was supported by CNR (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche) and by MIUR (Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca).


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© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di NeuroscienzeUniversità di ParmaParmaItaly

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