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Prog Neurobiol. 2019 Sep 6:101691. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2019.101691. [Epub ahead of print]

State estimation in posterior parietal cortex: Distinct poles of environmental and bodily states.

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Radboud University, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Electronic address:
Biopsychology & Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology & Sports Science, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany; Center of Excellence in Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Electronic address:


Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) has been implicated in sensory and motor processing, but its underlying organization is still debated. Sensory-based accounts suggest that PPC is mainly involved in attentional selection and multisensory integration, serving novelty detection and information seeking. Motor-specific accounts suggest a parietal subdivision into lower-dimensional, effector-specific subspaces for planning motor action. More recently, function-based interpretations have been put forward based on coordinated responses across multiple effectors evoked by circumscribed PPC regions. In this review, we posit that an overarching interpretation of PPC's functional organization must integrate, rather than contrast, these various accounts of PPC. We propose that PPC's main role is that of a state estimator that extends into two poles: a rostral, body-related pole that projects the environment onto the body and a caudal, environment-related pole that projects the body into an environment landscape. The combined topology interweaves perceptual, motor, and function-specific principles, and suggests that actions are specified by top-down guided optimization of body-environment interactions.


Body schema; Cortical organization; Effector specificity; Sensorimotor processing; State estimation

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