Dorsal and ventral streams
Neural receptive fields are often described in terms of the region of the visual field (or the retina) that influences the firing rate of the cell. A different way to describe receptive fields, one that is especially applicable for neurons higher up in the visual pathway, is in terms of the set of images that influences their firing rate. The first figure shows this for two neurons in the ventral stream. The ventral stream contains neurons that tend to respond in a similar way despite changes in viewpoint (movement of the observer). The dorsal stream, on the other hand, contains neurons that are exquisitely sensitive to changes in an image, particularly those that are caused by movement of the observer (e.g. their eyes, head or hand) independent of the nature of the scene. These two systems, then, provide complementary information that helps navigation across a set of image surfaces.
Signals from these two streams can be concatenated to provide a visual component of the current sensory+motivational context.
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