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Visual and eye movement functions of the posterior parietal cortex

Andersen, Richard A. (1989) Visual and eye movement functions of the posterior parietal cortex. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 12 . pp. 377-403. ISSN 0147-006X. doi:10.1146/

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Lesions of the posterior parietal area in humans produce interesting spatial-perceptual and spatial-behavioral deficits. Among the more important deficits observed are loss of spatial memories, problems representing spatial relations in models or drawings, disturbances in the spatial distribution of attention, and the inability to localize visual targets. Posterior parietal lesions in nonhuman primates also produce visual spatial deficits not unlike those found in humans. Mountcastle and his colleagues were the first to explore this area, using single cell recording techniques in behaving monkeys over 13 years ago. Subsequent work by Mountcastle, Lynch and colleagues, Hyvarinen and colleagues, Robinson, Goldberg & Stanton, and Sakata and colleagues during the period of the late 1970s and early 1980s provided an informational and conceptual foundation for exploration of this fascinating area of the brain. Four new directions of research that are presently being explored from this foundation are reviewed in this article. 1. The anatomical and functional organization of the inferior parietal lobule is presently being investigated with neuroanatomical tracing and single cell recording techniques. This area is now known to be comprised of at least four separate cortical fields. 2. Neural mechanisms for spatial constancy are being explored. In area 7a information about eye position is found to be integrated with visual inputs to produce representations of visual space that are head-centered (the meaning of a head-centered coordinate system is explained on p. 13). 3. The role of the posterior parietal cortex, and the pathways projecting into this region, in processing information about motion in the visual world is under investigation. Visual areas within the posterior parietal cortex may play a role in extracting higher level motion information including the perception of structure-from-motion. 4. A previously unexplored area within the intraparietal sulcus has been found whose cells hold a representation in memory of planned eye movements. Special experimental protocols have shown that these cells code the direction and amplitude of intended movements in motor coordinates and suggest that this area plays a role in motor planning.

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Andersen, Richard A.0000-0002-7947-0472
Additional Information:"Reprinted, with permission, from the Annual Review of Neuroscience, Volume 12 copyright 1989 by Annual Reviews," I wish to thank C. Andersen for editorial assistance and D. Duffy for typing the manuscript. This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants EY05522 and EY07492, the Sloan Foundation and the Whitaker Health Sciences Foundation.
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Deposited On:04 Jan 2006
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