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Brain Res. 1989 Nov 27;503(1):100-10.

Effects of cooling parietal cortex on prefrontal units in delay tasks.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90024.


The effects of cooling posterior parietal cortex (areas 5 and 7) on behavior and on the activity of prefrontal neurons were assessed in monkeys performing two visual discrimination tasks with delayed choice. In both tasks, the visual cue for each trial was displayed for 0.5 s by rear projection through colored filters on a central 2.5-cm translucid button. After a variable delay, the choice stimuli were presented on two lower stimulus-response buttons; to obtain a reward, the animal had to press the correct button in accord with the cue. In one task, a red or a green cue called for the choice of that color when the two colors appeared after the delay; in the other task, a yellow or blue cue called for the choice of, respectively, the right or the left of the two white-illuminated choice buttons. Prefrontal single-unit activity (sulcus principalis area) and eye movements were recorded during task performance while parietal areas were at normal or subnormal (6-20 degrees C) temperature. Two-thirds of the units investigated showed significant spontaneous firing changes, most commonly a decrease, as a result of bilateral parietal cooling. A similar proportion of units showed cooling-related changes, excitatory or inhibitory, of their firing activity during the task; such firing changes could occur in any trial-epoch. Parietal cooling also induced misreaching, slow and inaccurate ocular movements, and longer choice reaction time, but did not alter performance in terms of correct responses. Our results suggest the involvement of posterior parietal cortex in spatial aspects of task performance (reaching speed and accuracy, eye movements, reaction time). They also suggest the existence of functional influences from parietal upon prefrontal cortex. Those influences, however, seem not essential for the basic role of the prefrontal cortex in the temporal integration of behavior.

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