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Neuron. 2007 Nov 8;56(3):552-9.

Posterior parietal cortex encodes autonomously selected motor plans.

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Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.


The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of rhesus monkeys has been found to encode the behavioral meaning of categories of sensory stimuli. When animals are instructed with sensory cues to make either eye or hand movements to a target, PPC cells also show specificity depending on which effector (eye or hand) is instructed for the movement. To determine whether this selectivity retrospectively reflects the behavioral meaning of the cue or prospectively encodes the movement plan, we trained monkeys to autonomously choose to acquire a target in the absence of direct instructions specifying which effector to use. Activity in PPC showed strong specificity for effector choice, with cells in the lateral intraparietal area selective for saccades and cells in the parietal reach region selective for reaches. Such differential activity associated with effector choice under identical stimulus conditions provides definitive evidence that the PPC is prospectively involved in action selection and movement preparation.

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