Numerical representation for action in the parietal cortex of the monkey

Nature. 2002 Feb 21;415(6874):918-22. doi: 10.1038/415918a.


The anterior part of the parietal association area in the cerebral cortex of primates has been implicated in the integration of somatosensory signals, which generate neural images of body parts and apposed objects and provide signals for sensorial guidance of movements. Here we show that this area is active in primates performing numerically based behavioural tasks. We required monkeys to select and perform movement A five times, switch to movement B for five repetitions, and return to movement A, in a cyclical fashion. Cellular activity in the superior parietal lobule reflected the number of self-movement executions. For the most part, the number-selective activity was also specific for the type of movement. This type of numerical representation of self-action was seen less often in the inferior parietal lobule, and rarely in the primary somatosensory cortex. Such activity in the superior parietal lobule is useful for processing numerical information, which is necessary to provide a foundation for the forthcoming motor selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Macaca
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance