Parietal updating of limb posture: an event-related fMRI study

Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(13):2685-90. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.01.009. Epub 2006 Feb 28.


The posterior parietal cortex (PPC) is thought to integrate different kinds of sensory information (e.g., visual, auditory, somatosensory) to produce multiple representations of space that are each associated with different types or combinations of action; such as saccadic eye movements and reaching or grasping movements of the upper limb. Lesion studies in monkeys and in humans have shown that reaching movements to visually defined and to posturally defined targets can be dissociated from one another; indicating that different regions of the parietal cortex may code the same movement in either extrinsic (visual) or intrinsic (postural) coordinates. These studies also suggest that regions within the posterior parietal cortex play an important role in maintaining an accurate and up-to-date representation of the current postural state of the body (the body schema). We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate those brain areas involved in maintaining and updating postural (i.e., non-visual) representations of the upper limb that participate in the accurate control of reaching movements. We show that a change in the posture of the upper-limb is associated with a significant increase in BOLD activation in only one brain region--the superior parietal cortex, particularly the medial aspect (precuneus). We note that this finding is consistent with the suggestion, based upon human neurological investigations and monkey electrophysiology, that this region of the PPC may participate in the dynamic representation of the body schema, and is the most likely location for damage leading to errors in visually guided reaching to non-foveated target locations. We also note that this brain area corresponds to a region of PPC recently identified as the human homologue of the Parietal Reach Region (PRR) observed in the monkey brain that has been thought to represent reaching movements in eye-centred coordinates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Extremities / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Parietal Lobe / blood supply*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Posture*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology


  • Oxygen