Dual pathways for haptic and visual perception of spatial and texture information

K. Sathian, Simon Lacey, Randall Stilla, Gregory O. Gibson, Gopikrishna Deshpande, Xiaoping Hu, Stephen LaConte, Christopher Glielmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Segregation of information flow along a dorsally directed pathway for processing object location and a ventrally directed pathway for processing object identity is well established in the visual and auditory systems, but is less clear in the somatosensory system. We hypothesized that segregation of location vs. identity information in touch would be evident if texture is the relevant property for stimulus identity, given the salience of texture for touch. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether the pathways for haptic and visual processing of location and texture are segregated, and the extent of bisensory convergence. Haptic texture-selectivity was found in the parietal operculum and posterior visual cortex bilaterally, and in parts of left inferior frontal cortex. There was bisensory texture-selectivity at some of these sites in posterior visual and left inferior frontal cortex. Connectivity analyses demonstrated, in each modality, flow of information from unisensory non-selective areas to modality-specific texture-selective areas and further to bisensory texture-selective areas. Location-selectivity was mostly bisensory, occurring in dorsal areas, including the frontal eye fields and multiple regions around the intraparietal sulcus bilaterally. Many of these regions received input from unisensory areas in both modalities. Together with earlier studies, the activation and connectivity analyses of the present study establish that somatosensory processing flows into segregated pathways for location and object identity information. The location-selective somatosensory pathway converges with its visual counterpart in dorsal frontoparietal cortex, while the texture-selective somatosensory pathway runs through the parietal operculum before converging with its visual counterpart in visual and frontal cortex. Both segregation of sensory processing according to object property and multisensory convergence appear to be universal organizing principles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-475
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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