Tuning for the orientation of spatial attention in dorsal premotor cortex

Eur J Neurosci. 2001 Mar;13(5):1002-8. doi: 10.1046/j.0953-816x.2001.01457.x.


We tested whether neuronal activity in the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) reflected the orientation of selective spatial attention, as opposed to the target of a reaching movement, eye position and saccade direction. These four spatial variables were dissociated in two tasks, which both required that a monkey attend to a robot's location in order to know when to make a movement. However, the target of the reaching movement varied; it was the robot's location in one task, but a different location in the other task. Eye position was recorded, but not explicitly controlled. Of 199 PMd neurons sampled, 19% had activity related to eye position, and an overlapping 11% were related to saccade direction (totaling 24% of the PMd sample). Of the 152 PMd neurons that lacked oculomotor relationships, approximately 20% reflected the orientation of selective spatial attention. Attentional tuning may account, at least in part, for gaze-independent receptive fields and visuospatial, target or goal relationships in tasks involving stimulus-response incompatibility.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / physiology
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*