Spatial invariance of visual receptive fields in parietal cortex neurons

Nature. 1997 Oct 23;389(6653):845-8. doi: 10.1038/39865.


Spatial information is conveyed to the primary visual cortex in retinal coordinates. Movement trajectory programming, however, requires a transformation from this sensory frame of reference into a frame appropriate for the selected part of the body, such as the eye, head or arms. To achieve this transformation, visual information must be combined with information from other sources: for instance, the location of an object of interest can be defined with respect to the observer's head if the position of the eyes in the orbit is known and is added to the object's retinal coordinates. Here we show that in a subdivision of the monkey parietal lobe, the ventral intraparietal area (VIP), the activity of visual neurons is modulated by eye-position signals, as in many other areas of the cortical visual system. We find that individual receptive fields of a population of VIP neurons are organized along a continuum, from eye to head coordinates. In the latter case, neurons encode the azimuth and/or elevation of a visual stimulus, independently of the direction in which the eyes are looking, thus representing spatial locations explicitly in at least a head-centred frame of reference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Head
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / cytology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*