Change in motor plan, without a change in the spatial locus of attention, modulates activity in posterior parietal cortex

J Neurophysiol. 1998 May;79(5):2814-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.1998.79.5.2814.


The lateral intraparietal area (LIP) of macaque monkey, and a parietal reach region (PRR) medial and posterior to LIP, code the intention to make visually guided eye and arm movements, respectively. We studied the effect of changing the motor plan, without changing the locus of attention, on single neurons in these two areas. A central target was fixated while one or two sequential flashes occurred in the periphery. The first appeared either within the response field of the neuron being recorded or else on the opposite side of the fixation point. Animals planned a saccade (red flash) or reach (green flash) to the flash location. In some trials, a second flash 750 ms later could change the motor plan but never shifted attention: second flashes always occurred at the same location as the preceding first flash. Responses in LIP were larger when a saccade was instructed (n = 20 cells), whereas responses in PRR were larger when a reach was instructed (n = 17). This motor preference was observed for both first flashes and second flashes. In addition, the response to a second flash depended on whether it affirmed or countermanded the first flash; second flash responses were diminished only in the former case. Control experiments indicated that this differential effect was not due to stimulus novelty. These findings support a role for posterior parietal cortex in coding specific motor intention and are consistent with a possible role in the nonspatial shifting of motor intention.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology