Separate body- and world-referenced representations of visual space in parietal cortex

Nature. 1998 Aug 27;394(6696):887-91. doi: 10.1038/29777.


In order to direct a movement towards a visual stimulus, visual spatial information must be combined with postural information. For example, directing gaze (eye plus head) towards a visible target requires the combination of retinal image location with eye and head position to determine the location of the target relative to the body. Similarly, world-referenced postural information is required to determine where something lies in the world. Posterior parietal neurons recorded in monkeys combine visual information with eye and head position. A population of such cells could make up a distributed representation of target location in an extraretinal frame of reference. However, previous studies have not distinguished between world-referenced and body-referenced signals. Here we report that modulations of visual signals (gain fields) in two adjacent cortical fields, LIP and 7a, are referenced to the body and to the world, respectively. This segregation of spatial information is consistent with a streaming of information, with one path carrying body-referenced information for the control of gaze, and the other carrying world-referenced information for navigation and other tasks that require an absolute frame of reference.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Head
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Posture / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*