Fix your eyes in the space you could reach: Neurons in the macaque medial parietal cortex prefer gaze positions in peripersonal space

Konstantinos Chatzidimitrakis, Rossella Breveglieri, Giacomo Placenti, Annalisa Bosco, Silvo P Sabatini, Patrizia Fattori

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33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Interacting in the peripersonal space requires coordinated arm and eye movements to visual targets in depth. In primates, the medial posterior parietal cortex (PPC) represents a crucial node in the process of visual-to-motor signal transformations. The medial PPC area V6A is a key region engaged in the control of these processes because it jointly processes visual information, eye position and arm movement related signals. However, to date, there is no evidence in the medial PPC of spatial encoding in three dimensions. Here, using single neuron recordings in behaving macaques, we studied the neural signals related to binocular eye position in a task that required the monkeys to perform saccades and fixate targets at different locations in peripersonal and extrapersonal space. A significant proportion of neurons were modulated by both gaze direction and depth, i.e., by the location of the foveated target in 3D space. The population activity of these neurons displayed a strong preference for peripersonal space in a time interval around the saccade that preceded fixation and during fixation as well. This preference for targets within reaching distance during both target capturing and fixation suggests that binocular eye position signals are implemented functionally in V6A to support its role in reaching and grasping.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23335
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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