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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Mar;107(5):1275-90. doi: 10.1152/jn.00867.2011. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

Spike-field activity in parietal area LIP during coordinated reach and saccade movements.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, NY, USA.


The posterior parietal cortex is situated between visual and motor areas and supports coordinated visually guided behavior. Area LIP in the intraparietal sulcus contains representations of visual space and has been extensively studied in the context of saccades. However, area LIP has not been studied during coordinated movements, so it is not known whether saccadic representations in area LIP are influenced by coordinated behavior. Here, we studied spiking and local field potential (LFP) activity in area LIP while subjects performed coordinated reaches and saccades or saccades alone to remembered target locations to test whether activity in area LIP is influenced by the presence of a coordinated reach. We find that coordination significantly changes the activity of individual neurons in area LIP, increasing or decreasing the firing rate when a reach is made with a saccade compared with when a saccade is made alone. Analyzing spike-field coherence demonstrates that area LIP neurons whose firing rate is suppressed during the coordinated task have activity temporally correlated with nearby LFP activity, which reflects the synaptic activity of populations of neurons. Area LIP neurons whose firing rate increases during the coordinated task do not show significant spike-field coherence. Furthermore, LFP power in area LIP is suppressed and does not increase when a coordinated reach is made with a saccade. These results demonstrate that area LIP neurons display different responses to coordinated reach and saccade movements, and that different spike rate responses are associated with different patterns of correlated activity. The population of neurons whose firing rate is suppressed is coherently active with local populations of LIP neurons. Overall, these results suggest that area LIP plays a role in coordinating visually guided actions through suppression of coherent patterns of saccade-related activity.

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