Shape responses in a macaque frontal area connected to posterior parietal cortex

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The primate dorsal visual stream processes object shape to guide actions involving an object, but the transmission of shape information beyond posterior parietal cortex remains largely unknown. To clarify the information flow between parietal and frontal cortex, we applied electrical microstimulation during functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in a shape-selective patch in the posterior part of the Anterior Intraparietal area (pAIP) to chart its connectivity. Subsequently, we recorded single-unit responses to images of objects in the fMRI activation in prefrontal cortex, corresponding to area 45B, elicited by pAIP microstimulation. Neurons in area 45B had properties similar to neurons in pAIP, responding selectively to shape contours and to very small shape fragments measuring less than one deg at exceedingly short latencies. However, contrary to the prevailing view on the hierarchical organization of cortical areas, neurons in area 45B preferred even smaller shape fragments and had smaller receptive fields than neurons in pAIP. These findings provide the first evidence for ultra-fast shape processing in prefrontal cortex, and suggest that the pathway from pAIP to area 45B may not be important for object grasping.

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