Selective Modulation of Early Visual Cortical Activity by Movement Intention

Cereb Cortex. 2019 Dec 17;29(11):4662-4678. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhy345.


The primate visual system contains myriad feedback projections from higher- to lower-order cortical areas, an architecture that has been implicated in the top-down modulation of early visual areas during working memory and attention. Here we tested the hypothesis that these feedback projections also modulate early visual cortical activity during the planning of visually guided actions. We show, across three separate human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies involving object-directed movements, that information related to the motor effector to be used (i.e., limb, eye) and action goal to be performed (i.e., grasp, reach) can be selectively decoded-prior to movement-from the retinotopic representation of the target object(s) in early visual cortex. We also find that during the planning of sequential actions involving objects in two different spatial locations, that motor-related information can be decoded from both locations in retinotopic cortex. Together, these findings indicate that movement planning selectively modulates early visual cortical activity patterns in an effector-specific, target-centric, and task-dependent manner. These findings offer a neural account of how motor-relevant target features are enhanced during action planning and suggest a possible role for early visual cortex in instituting a sensorimotor estimate of the visual consequences of movement.

Keywords: action; grasping; planning; reaching; vision.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology
  • Young Adult