Flexible coding of object motion in multiple reference frames by parietal cortex neurons

Nat Neurosci. 2020 Aug;23(8):1004-1015. doi: 10.1038/s41593-020-0656-0. Epub 2020 Jun 15.


Neurons represent spatial information in diverse reference frames, but it remains unclear whether neural reference frames change with task demands and whether these changes can account for behavior. In this study, we examined how neurons represent the direction of a moving object during self-motion, while monkeys switched, from trial to trial, between reporting object direction in head- and world-centered reference frames. Self-motion information is needed to compute object motion in world coordinates but should be ignored when judging object motion in head coordinates. Neural responses in the ventral intraparietal area are modulated by the task reference frame, such that population activity represents object direction in either reference frame. In contrast, responses in the lateral portion of the medial superior temporal area primarily represent object motion in head coordinates. Our findings demonstrate a neural representation of object motion that changes with task requirements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Space Perception / physiology