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Krauzlis et al. argue that animals without a well-developed neocortex nonetheless show signs of visual attention. Thus, it is likely that the neocortex is not necessary for attention and SC can regulate attention without the neocortex.

Different parts of the visual field feed into the cortical and subcortical visual pathways more or less strongly in humans.

The nasal part of the visual field feeds more into the cortical pathway while the peripheral part feeds more into the sub-cortical pathway.

In one experiment, newborns reacted to faces only if they were (exclusively) visible in their peripheral visual field, supporting the theory that the sub-cortical pathway of visual processing plays a major role in orienting towards faces in newborns.

It makes sense that sub-cortical visual processing uses peripheral information more than cortical processing:

  • sub-cortical processing is concerned with latent monitoring of the environment for potential dangers (or conspecifiics)
  • sub-cortical processing is concerned with watching the environment and guiding attention in cortical processing.

SC has been implicated as part of a subcortical visual pathway which may drive face detection and orienting towards faces in newborns.

The subcortical visual pathway which may drive face detection and orienting towards faces in newborns hypothesized by Johnson also includes amygdala and pulvinar.

According to the hypothesis expressed by Johnson, amygdala, pulvinar, and SC together form a sub-cortical pathway which detects faces, initiates orienting movements towards faces, and activates cortical regions.

This implies that this pathway may be important for the development of the `social brain', as Johnson puts it.