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J Neurophysiol. 2005 Aug;94(2):1372-84. Epub 2005 Apr 7.

Topographic organization for delayed saccades in human posterior parietal cortex.

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Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is thought to play a critical role in decision making, sensory attention, motor intention, and/or working memory. Research on the PPC in non-human primates has focused on the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Neurons in LIP respond after the onset of visual targets, just before saccades to those targets, and during the delay period in between. To study the function of posterior parietal cortex in humans, it will be crucial to have a routine and reliable method for localizing specific parietal areas in individual subjects. Here, we show that human PPC contains at least two topographically organized regions, which are candidates for the human homologue of LIP. We mapped the topographic organization of human PPC for delayed (memory guided) saccades using fMRI. Subjects were instructed to fixate centrally while a peripheral target was briefly presented. After a further 3-s delay, subjects made a saccade to the remembered target location followed by a saccade back to fixation and a 1-s inter-trial interval. Targets appeared at successive locations "around the clock" (same eccentricity, approximately 30 degrees angular steps), to produce a traveling wave of activity in areas that are topographically organized. PPC exhibited topographic organization for delayed saccades. We defined two areas in each hemisphere that contained topographic maps of the contra-lateral visual field. These two areas were immediately rostral to V7 as defined by standard retinotopic mapping. The two areas were separated from each other and from V7 by reversals in visual field orientation. However, we leave open the possibility that these two areas will be further subdivided in future studies. Our results demonstrate that topographic maps tile the cortex continuously from V1 well into PPC.

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