Is the extrastriate body area part of the dorsal visuomotor stream?
Zimmermann M., Mars RB., de Lange FP., Toni I., Verhagen L.
The extrastriate body area (EBA) processes visual information about body parts, and it is considered one among a series of category-specific perceptual modules distributed across the occipito-temporal cortex. However, recent evidence raises the possibility that EBA might also provide an interface between perception and action, linking the ventral and dorsal streams of visual information processing. Here, we assess anatomical evidence supporting this possibility. We localise EBA in individual subjects using a perceptual task and compare the characteristics of its functional and structural connectivity to those of two perceptual areas, the lateral occipital complex (LOC) and the fusiform body area (FBA), separately for each hemisphere. We apply complementary analyses of resting-state fMRI and diffusion-weighted MRI data in a group of healthy right-handed human subjects (N = 31). Functional and structural connectivity profiles indicate that EBA interacts more strongly with dorsal-stream regions compared to other portions of the occipito-temporal cortex involved in processing body parts (FBA) and object identification (LOC). These findings provide anatomical ground for a revision of the functional role of EBA. Building on a number of recent observations, we suggest that EBA contributes to planning goal-directed actions, possibly by specifying a desired postural configuration to parieto-frontal areas involved in computing movement parameters.