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J Neurophysiol. 2017 Oct 1;118(4):2328-2343. doi: 10.1152/jn.00408.2017. Epub 2017 Aug 2.

Multiple spatial representations interact to increase reach accuracy when coordinating a saccade with a reach.

Author information

Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York; and.
Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York; and


Reaching is an essential behavior that allows primates to interact with the environment. Precise reaching to visual targets depends on our ability to localize and foveate the target. Despite this, how the saccade system contributes to improvements in reach accuracy remains poorly understood. To assess spatial contributions of eye movements to reach accuracy, we performed a series of behavioral psychophysics experiments in nonhuman primates (Macaca mulatta). We found that a coordinated saccade with a reach to a remembered target location increases reach accuracy without target foveation. The improvement in reach accuracy was similar to that obtained when the subject had visual information about the location of the current target in the visual periphery and executed the reach while maintaining central fixation. Moreover, we found that the increase in reach accuracy elicited by a coordinated movement involved a spatial coupling mechanism between the saccade and reach movements. We observed significant correlations between the saccade and reach errors for coordinated movements. In contrast, when the eye and arm movements were made to targets in different spatial locations, the magnitude of the error and the degree of correlation between the saccade and reach direction were determined by the spatial location of the eye and the hand targets. Hence, we propose that coordinated movements improve reach accuracy without target foveation due to spatial coupling between the reach and saccade systems. Spatial coupling could arise from a neural mechanism for coordinated visual behavior that involves interacting spatial representations.NEW & NOTEWORTHY How visual spatial representations guiding reach movements involve coordinated saccadic eye movements is unknown. Temporal coupling between the reach and saccade system during coordinated movements improves reach performance. However, the role of spatial coupling is unclear. Using behavioral psychophysics, we found that spatial coupling increases reach accuracy in addition to temporal coupling and visual acuity. These results suggest that a spatial mechanism to couple the reach and saccade systems increases the accuracy of coordinated movements.


accuracy; eye-hand coordination; reach; saccade; visual-motor

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