Inferotemporal cortex (IT) has long been studied as asingle pathway dedicated to object vision, but connectivity analysis reveals anatomically distinct channels, through ventral superior temporal sulcus (STSv) and dorsal/ventral inferotemporal gyrus (TEd, TEv). Here, we report a major functional distinction between channels. We studied individual IT neurons in monkeys viewing stereoscopic 3D images projected on a large screen. We used adaptive stimuli to explore neural tuning for 3D abstract shapes ranging in scale and topology from small, closed, bounded objects to large, open, unbounded environments (landscape-like surfaces and cave-like interiors). In STSv, most neurons were more responsive to objects, as expected. In TEd, surprisingly, most neurons were more responsive to 3D environmental shape. Previous studies have localized environmental information to posterior cortical modules. Our results show it is also channeled through anterior IT, where extensive cross-connections between STSv and TEd could integrate object and environmental shape information.
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