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Shenbing Kuang, Pierre Morel, and Alexander Gail (2015)

Planning Movements in Visual and Physical Space in Monkey Posterior Parietal Cortex

Cerebral Cortex:bhu312, 1-17.  (export entry)

Neurons in the posterior parietal cortex respond selectively for spatial parameters of planned goal-directed movements. Yet, it is still unclear which aspects of the movement the neurons encode: the spatial parameters of the upcoming physical movement (physical goal), or the upcoming visual limb movement (visual goal). To test this, we recorded neuronal activity from the parietal reach region while monkeys planned reaches under either normal or prism-reversed viewing conditions. We found predominant encoding of physical goals while fewer neurons were selective for visual goals during planning. In contrast, local field potentials recorded in the same brain region exhibited predominant visual goal encoding, similar to previous imaging data from humans. The visual goal encoding in individual neurons was neither related to immediate visual input nor to visual memory, but to the future visual movement. Our finding suggests that action planning in parietal cortex is not exclusively a precursor of impending physical movements, as reflected by the predominant physical goal encoding, but also contains spatial kinematic parameters of upcoming visual movement, as reflected by co-existing visual goal encoding in neuronal spiking. The co-existence of visual and physical goals adds a complementary perspective to the current understanding of parietal spatial computations in primates.
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhu312 ISSN: 1047-3211, 1460-2199