Representing spatial information for limb movement: role of area 5 in the monkey

Cereb Cortex. Sep-Oct 1995;5(5):391-409. doi: 10.1093/cercor/5.5.391.


How is spatial information for limb movement encoded in the brain? Computational and psychophysical studies suggest that beginning hand position, via-points, and target are specified relative to the body to afford a comparison between the sensory (e.g., kinesthetic) reafferences and the commands that generate limb movement. Here we propose that the superior parietal lobule (Brodmann area 5) might represent a substrate for a body-centered positional code. Monkeys made arm movements in different parts of 3D space in a reaction-time task. We found that the activity of area 5 neurons can be related to either the starting point, or the final point, or combinations of the two. Neural activity is monotonically tuned in a body-centered frame of reference, whose coordinates define the azimuth, elevation, and distance of the hand. Each spatial coordinate tends to be encoded in a different subpopulation of neurons. This parcellation could be a neural correlate of the psychophysical observation that these spatial parameters are processed in parallel and largely independent of each other in man.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm / physiology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Microelectrodes
  • Models, Neurological
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / cytology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*