Body-Centered, Mixed, but not Hand-Centered Coding of Visual Targets in the Medial Posterior Parietal Cortex During Reaches in 3D Space


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Abstract

The frames of reference used by neurons in posterior parietal cortex (PPC) to encode spatial locations during arm reaching movements is a debated topic in modern neurophysiology. Traditionally, target location, encoded in retinocentric reference frame (RF) in caudal PPC, was assumed to be serially transformed to body-centered and then hand-centered coordinates rostrally. However, recent studies suggest that these transformations occur within a single area. The caudal PPC area V6A has been shown to represent reach targets in eye-centered, body-centered, and a combination of both RFs, but the presence of hand-centered coding has not been yet investigated. To examine this issue, 141 single neurons were recorded from V6A in 2 Macaca fascicularis monkeys while they performed a foveated reaching task in darkness. The targets were presented at different distances and lateralities from the body and were reached from initial hand positions located at different depths. Most V6A cells used body-centered, or mixed body- and hand-centered coordinates. Only a few neurons used pure hand-centered coordinates, thus clearly distinguishing V6A from nearby PPC regions. Our findings support the view of a gradual RF transformation in PPC and also highlight the impact of mixed frames of reference.

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