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ARU Visual Pathway and Streams Discussion

ARU Visual Pathway and Streams Discussion


The visual system is a complex network of structures and processes that allows us to perceive and make sense of the visual information from our surroundings. The pathway of the visual system from physical energy to the occipital lobe involves several stages and different cortical areas, with the two major streams, dorsal and ventral, playing distinct roles in processing visual information.

  1. Physical Energy (Light): The journey of visual information begins with physical energy in the form of light entering the eye through the cornea and passing through the lens. The lens focuses the light onto the retina at the back of the eye.
  2. Retina: The retina is a crucial part of the visual system. It contains specialized cells called photoreceptors, which are of two types: rods and cones. Cones are responsible for color vision and detail, while rods are sensitive to low light conditions. When light strikes these photoreceptors, it triggers a chemical reaction that converts light energy into electrical signals.
  3. Retinal Ganglion Cells: The electrical signals generated by photoreceptors are then processed by intermediate neurons known as bipolar cells and amacrine cells before reaching the retinal ganglion cells. These ganglion cells collect and transmit the processed visual information from the retina.
  4. Optic Nerve: The axons of the retinal ganglion cells bundle together to form the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries the visual signals from the eye to the brain.
  5. Optic Chiasm: At the optic chiasm, located at the base of the brain, some of the optic nerve fibers from each eye cross over to the opposite side of the brain, while others continue on the same side. This crossing-over allows for the integration of information from both eyes.
  6. Lateral Geniculate Nucleus (LGN): The optic nerve fibers that do not cross over project to the LGN, a structure in the thalamus. The LGN acts as a relay station, further processing and sorting visual information before sending it to the cortex.
  7. Primary Visual Cortex (V1): The LGN relays visual information to the primary visual cortex, also known as V1 or the striate cortex, located in the occipital lobe at the back of the brain. Here, the basic features of the visual stimulus, such as edges, orientation, and motion, are processed. The dorsal and ventral streams originate at this point.
  8. Dorsal Stream (Where Pathway): The dorsal stream, also known as the “where” pathway, branches off from V1 and continues through several cortical areas, including the posterior parietal cortex. This stream is responsible for processing the spatial location of objects and guiding actions related to vision, such as reaching and grasping.
  9. Ventral Stream (What Pathway): The ventral stream, also known as the “what” pathway, continues from V1 to the inferior temporal cortex. This stream is primarily involved in recognizing and identifying objects, colors, and shapes.

In summary, the visual system processes physical energy (light) through the retina and a series of neural structures, ultimately leading to the occipital lobe, specifically the primary visual cortex (V1). From there, the information diverges into two streams: the dorsal stream, which processes spatial information, and the ventral stream, which focuses on object recognition and identification. These two streams work in parallel to help us perceive and understand the visual world around us.

ARU Visual Pathway and Streams Discussion

Question Description

I’m working on a social science multi-part question and need the explanation and answer to help me learn.


Describe in detail the pathway of the visual system from physical energy to occipital lobe. Make sure to include specifics about the physical energy and the function of each area as you describe the pathway. Do not forget the cortical areas involved via the dorsal and ventral streams.

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