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Cereb Cortex. 2003 Dec;13(12):1276-86.

The eye and the hand: neural mechanisms and network models for oculomanual coordination in parietal cortex.

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Dipartimento di Fisiologia Umana e Farmacologia, Università di Roma La Sapienza, Piazzale A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome, Italy.


The coordinated action of the eye and the hand is necessary for the successful performance of a large variety of motor tasks based on visual information. Although at the output level the neural control systems for the eye and the hand are largely segregated, in the parietal cortex of the macaque monkey there exist populations of neurons able to combine ocular and manual signals on the basis of their spatial congruence. An expression of this congruence is the clustering of eye- and hand-related preferred directions of these neurons into a restricted region of the workspace, defined as field of global tuning. This domain may represent a neural substrate for the early composition of commands for coordinated oculo-manual actions. Here we study two different prototypical network models integrating inputs about retinal target location, eye position and hand position. In the first one, we model the interaction of these different signals, as it occurs at the afferent level, in a feed-forward fashion. In the second model, we assume that recurrent interactions are responsible for their combination. Both models account surprisingly well for the experimentally observed global tuning fields of parietal neurons. When we compare them with the experimental findings, no significant difference emerges between the two. Experiments potentially able to discriminate between these models could be performed.

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