Parietal modules for reaching

Neuropsychologia. 2009 May;47(6):1500-7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.11.030. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


Optic ataxia (OA) is classically defined as a deficit of visually guided movements that follows lesions of the posterior part of the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Since the formalisation of the double stream of visual information processing [Milner, A. D., & Goodale, M. A. (1995). The visual brain in action. Oxford: Oxford University Press] and the use of OA as an argument in favour of the involvement of the posterior parietal cortex (dorsal stream) in visually guided movements, many studies have looked at the visuomotor deficits of these patients. In parallel, the development of neuroimaging methods have led to increasing information about the role of the posterior parietal cortex in visually guided actions. In this article, we discuss the similarities and differences in the results that emerged from these two complementary viewpoints by combining a meta-analysis of neuroimaging data on reaching with lesion studies from OA patients and results of our own fMRI study on reaching in the ipsi- and contra-lateral visual field. We identified four bilateral parietal foci from the meta-analysis and found that the more posterior foci showed greater lateralisation for contralateral visual stimulation than more anterior ones Additionally, the more anterior foci showed greater lateralisation for the use of the contralateral hand than the more posterior ones. Therefore, we can demonstrate that they are organised along a postero-anterior gradient of visual-to-somatic information integration. Furthermore, from the combination of imaging and lesion data it can be inferred that a lesion of the three most posterior foci responsible for the target-hand integration could explain the hand and field effect revealed in OA reaching behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia / pathology
  • Ataxia / physiopathology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hand
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Parietal Lobe / blood supply
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Vision Disorders
  • Visual Fields / physiology


  • Oxygen