Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, Biological Sciences vol:371 issue:1697
One of the most powerful forms of depth perception capitalizes on the small relative displacements, or binocular disparities, in the images projected onto each eye. The brain employs these disparities to facilitate various computations, including sensori-motor transformations (reaching, grasping), scene segmentation and object recognition. In accordance with these different functions, disparity activates a large number of regions in the brain of both humans and monkeys. Here, we review how disparity processing evolves along different regions of the ventral visual pathway of macaques, emphasizing research based on both correlational and causal techniques. We will discuss the progression in the ventral pathway from a basic absolute disparity representation to a more complex three-dimensional shape code. We will show that, in the course of this evolution, the underlying neuronal activity becomes progressively more bound to the global perceptual experience. We argue that these observations most probably extend beyond disparity processing per se, and pertain to object processing in the ventral pathway in general. We conclude by posing some important unresolved questions whose answers may significantly advance the field, and broaden its scope.This article is part of the themed issue 'Vision in our three-dimensional world'.