Previous findings suggest the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) contributes to arm movement planning by transforming target and limb position signals into a desired reach vector. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this transformation remain unclear. In the present study we examined the responses of 109 PPC neurons as movements were planned and executed to visual targets presented over a large portion of the reaching workspace. In contrast to previous studies, movements were made without concurrent visual and somatic cues about the starting position of the hand. For comparison, a subset of neurons was also examined with concurrent visual and somatic hand position cues. We found that single cells integrated target and limb position information in a very consistent manner across the reaching workspace. Approximately two-thirds of the neurons with significantly tuned activity (42/61 and 30/46 for left and right workspaces, respectively) coded targets and initial hand positions separably, indicating no hand-centered encoding, whereas the remaining one-third coded targets and hand positions inseparably, in a manner more consistent with the influence of hand-centered coordinates. The responses of both types of neurons were largely invariant with respect to the presence or absence of visual hand position cues, suggesting their corresponding coordinate frames and gain effects were unaffected by cue integration. The results suggest that the PPC uses a consistent scheme for computing reach vectors in different parts of the workspace that is robust to changes in the availability of somatic and visual cues about hand position.
- Reference frames
ASJC Scopus subject areas