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Different patterns of high density EEG activity were elicited by the same peripheral stimuli, in the context of Landmark Cueing and Perceptual Discrimination tasks. The C1 component of the visual event-related potential (ERP) at parietal – occipital electrode sites was larger in the Landmark Cueing task, and source localisation suggested greater activation in the superior parietal lobule (SPL) in this task, compared to the Perceptual Discrimination task, indicating stronger early recruitment of the dorsal visual stream. In the Perceptual Discrimination task, source localisation suggested widespread activation of the inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) and fusiform gyrus (FFG), structures associated with the ventral visual stream, during the early phase of the P1 ERP component. Moreover, during a later epoch (171–270 ms after stimulus onset) increased temporal–occipital negativity, and stronger recruitment of ITG and FFG were observed in the Perceptual Discrimination task. These findings illuminate the contrasting functions of the dorsal and ventral visual streams, to support rapid shifts of attention in response to contextual landmarks, and conscious discrimination, respectively.Activation in the dorsal visual stream was seen when peripheral stimuli elicited rapid movements of attention.Activation in the ventral visual stream was seen when peripheral stimuli were discriminated consciously.Dorsal stream activation linked with attention had a faster onset than ventral stream activation linked with conscious discrimination.