Separate visual representations in the planning and control of action

Behav Brain Sci. 2004 Feb;27(1):3-24; discussion 24-78. doi: 10.1017/s0140525x04000020.


Evidence for a dichotomy between the planning of an action and its on-line control in humans is reviewed. This evidence suggests that planning and control each serve a specialized purpose utilizing distinct visual representations. Evidence from behavioral studies suggests that planning is influenced by a large array of visual and cognitive information, whereas control is influenced solely by the spatial characteristics of the target, including such things as its size, shape, orientation, and so forth. Evidence from brain imaging and neuropsychology suggests that planning and control are subserved by separate visual centers in the posterior parietal lobes, each constituting part of a larger network for planning and control. Planning appears to rely on phylogenetically newer regions in the inferior parietal lobe, along with the frontal lobes and basal ganglia, whereas control appears to rely on older regions in the superior parietal lobe, along with the cerebellum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Intention*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Thinking / physiology*