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Exp Brain Res. 2008 Mar;186(1):131-41. Epub 2007 Nov 24.

Auditory-motor and cognitive aspects in area 8B of macaque monkey's frontal cortex: a premotor ear-eye field (PEEF).

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Department of Biomedical Sciences Section of Physiology and Animal Facilities Centre Section of Policlinic, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, 41100, Modena, Italy.


In previous reports, we showed the involvement of area 8B neurons in both spontaneous ear and eye movement and in auditory information processing. Audition-related cells responded to complex environmental stimuli, but not to pure tones, and their activity changed during visual fixation as a possible inhibitory expression of the engagement of attention. We observed auditory, auditory-motor and motor cells for both eye and ear movements. This finding suggests that area 8B may be involved in the integration of auditory input with ear and eye motor output. In this paper, we extended these previous studies by examining area 8B activity in relation to auditive orienting behaviour, as well as the ocular orientation (i.e., visual fixation) studied previously. Visual fixation led to inhibition of activity in auditory and auditory-motor cells, which suggests that attention may be involved in both, maintaining the eye position and reducing the response of these cell types. Accordingly, during a given task or natural behaviour, spatial attention seems to affect more than one sensorimotor channel simultaneously. These data add to our understanding of how the neural network, through a two-channel attentive process, accomplishes to switch between two effectors, namely eyes and ears. Considering the functional, anatomical and cytoarchitectonic differences among the frontal eye field (FEF), the supplementary eye field (SEF) and area 8B, we propose to consider area 8B as a separate premotor ear-eye field (PEEF).

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