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Researchers Discover Brain Part Responsible for Interpreting Vision

A team of researchers led by Richard Krauzlis, PhD, has reported a section of the brain in the Superior Temporal Sulcus (fSTS) is responsible for how visual information is interpreted.

The superior temporal sulcus (fSTS), sometimes referred to as the temporoparietal junction, is a brain region that is important for numerous aspects of social cognition.

This region according to research material is typically active during tasks of cognitive empathy and perspective-taking.

Krauzlis, chief of the NEI Section on Eye Movements and Selective Attention, while commenting on their discovery stated; “The human visual system recognizes, prioritizes, and categorizes visual objects and events to provide actionable information,”

The research which was published in the Journal Neuron examined monkeys trained to complete specific visual attention tasks.

While fixing their eyes on a dot straight ahead, the monkeys pay attention to or specifically ignore events happening in the visual periphery – in this case, a patch of moving dots that changes direction, on either the right side or the left side of their visual field.

It was observed that the superior colliculus was strongly triggered when the monkeys are paying attention to the visual event, and less so when they’re ignoring it.

The superior colliculus (SC) is a structure in the midbrain that is part of the brain circuit for the transformation of sensory input into movement output.

“Even in an animal like a mouse, which has a pretty sophisticated visual system, there are a lot of shortcuts to interpret what things mean, handling much of that in the superior colliculus,” Krauzlis said.

“But in humans and other primates, that processing is spread out and delayed, passing information from the superior colliculus to the cortex through this fSTS region. And I think that lets us take advantage of a wider variety of visual features to help us figure out what a visual event means.”

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