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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Feb;91(2):186-96. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.09.015. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Where am I and how will I get there from here? A role for posterior parietal cortex in the integration of spatial information and route planning.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, California State University, Sacramento, USA.


The ability of an organism to accurately navigate from one place to another requires integration of multiple spatial constructs, including the determination of one's position and direction in space relative to allocentric landmarks, movement velocity, and the perceived location of the goal of the movement. In this review, we propose that while limbic areas are important for the sense of spatial orientation, the posterior parietal cortex is responsible for relating this sense with the location of a navigational goal and in formulating a plan to attain it. Hence, the posterior parietal cortex is important for the computation of the correct trajectory or route to be followed while navigating. Prefrontal and motor areas are subsequently responsible for executing the planned movement. Using this theory, we are able to bridge the gap between the rodent and primate literatures by suggesting that the allocentric role of the rodent PPC is largely analogous to the egocentric role typically emphasized in primates, that is, the integration of spatial orientation with potential goals in the planning of goal-directed movements.

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