3D shape perception from combined depth cues in human visual cortex

Andrew E. Welchman, Arne Deubelius, Verena Conrad, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Zoe Kourtzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Citations (Scopus)


Our perception of the world's three-dimensional (3D) structure is critical for object recognition, navigation and planning actions. To accomplish this, the brain combines different types of visual information about depth structure, but at present, the neural architecture mediating this combination remains largely unknown. Here, we report neuroimaging correlates of human 3D shape perception from the combination of two depth cues. We measured fMRI responses while observers judged the 3D structure of two sequentially presented images of slanted planes defined by binocular disparity and perspective. We compared the behavioral and fMRI responses evoked by changes in one or both of the depth cues. fMRI responses in extrastriate areas (hMT+/V5 and lateral occipital complex), rather than responses in early retinotopic areas, reflected differences in perceived 3D shape, suggesting 'combined-cue' representations in higher visual areas. These findings provide insight into the neural circuits engaged when the human brain combines different information sources for unified 3D visual perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)820-827
Number of pages8
JournalNature Neuroscience
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Preliminary reports of this work were presented at the VisionSciences Society’s 2003 meeting and at the Society for Neuroscience’s 2003 meeting. Thanks to S. Maier and J. Lam for help with data collection, and N. Logothetis, N. Kanwisher, J. Harris, S. McDonald, M. Ernst and R. Fleming for helpful discussions and comments. Thanks also to R. van Ee for advice on stimulus generation. Supported by an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to A.E.W., the Max-Planck Society and DFG grant TH812/1-1.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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