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Cereb Cortex. 2009 Dec;19(12):2848-64. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhp058. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

Cortical mechanisms for online control of hand movement trajectory: the role of the posterior parietal cortex.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, SAPIENZA, University of Rome, Italy.


The parietal mechanisms for the control of hand movement trajectory were studied by recording cell activity in area 5 of monkeys making direct reaches to visual targets and online corrections of movement trajectory, after change of target location in space. The activity of hand-related cells was fitted with a linear model including hand position, movement direction, and speed. The neural activity modulation mostly led, but also followed, hand movement. When a change of hand trajectory occurred, the pattern of activity associated with the movement to the first target evolved into that typical of the movement to the second one, thus following the corresponding variations of the hand kinematics. The visual signal concerning target location in space did not influence the firing activity associated with the direction of hand movement within the first 150 ms after target presentation. This might be the time necessary for the visuo-motor transformation underlying reaching. We conclude that online control of hand trajectory not only resides in the relationships between neural activity and kinematics, but, under specific circumstances, also on the coexistence of signals about ongoing and future hand movement direction.

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