Selectivity for the shape, size, and orientation of objects for grasping in neurons of monkey parietal area AIP

J Neurophysiol. 2000 May;83(5):2580-601. doi: 10.1152/jn.2000.83.5.2580.


In this study, we mainly investigated the visual selectivity of hand-manipulation-related neurons in the anterior intraparietal area (area AIP) while the animal was grasping or fixating on three-dimensional (3D) objects of different geometric shapes, sizes, and orientations. We studied the activity of 132 task-related neurons during the hand-manipulation tasks in the light and in the dark, as well as during object fixation. Seventy-seven percent (101/132) of the hand-manipulation-related neurons were visually responsive, showing either lesser activity during manipulation in the dark than during that in the light (visual-motor neurons) or no activation in the dark (visual-dominant neurons). Of these visually responsive neurons, more than half (n = 66) responded during the object-fixation task (object-type). Among these, 55 were tested for their shape selectivity during the object-fixation task, and many (n = 25) were highly selective, preferring one particular shape of the six different shapes presented (ring, cube, cylinder, cone, sphere, and square plate). For 28 moderately selective object-type neurons, we performed multidimensional scaling (MDS) to examine how the neurons encode the similarity of objects. The results suggest that some moderately selective neurons responded preferentially to common geometric features shared by similar objects (flat, round, elongated, etc.). Moderately selective nonobject-type visually responsive neurons, which did not respond during object fixation, were found by MDS to be more closely related to the handgrip than to the object shape. We found a similar selectivity for handgrip in motor-dominant neurons that did not show any visual response. With regard to the size of the objects, 16 of 26 object-type neurons tested were selective for both size and shape, whereas 9 object-type neurons were selective for shape but not for size. Seven of 12 nonobject-type and all (8/8) of the motor-dominant neurons examined were selective for size, and almost all of them were also selective for objects. Many hand-manipulation-related neurons that preferred the plate and/or ring were selective for the orientation of the objects (17/20). These results suggest that the visual responses of object-type neurons represent the shape, size, and/or orientation of 3D objects, whereas those of the nonobject-type neurons probably represent the shape of the handgrip, grip size, or hand-orientation. The activity of motor-dominant neurons was also, in part, likely to represent these parameters of hand movement. This suggests that the dorsal visual pathway is concerned with the aspect of form, orientation, and/or size perception that is relevant for the visual control of movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Darkness
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Light
  • Macaca
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Size Perception / physiology
  • Touch / physiology