Coding of reaching in 3-D space

Bertozzi, Federica (2013) Coding of reaching in 3-D space, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biomediche: progetto n. 4 "Neurofisiologia", 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5922.
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Many psychophysical studies suggest that target depth and direction during reaches are processed independently, but the neurophysiological support to this view is so far limited. Here, we investigated the representation of reach depth and direction by single neurons in an area of the medial posterior parietal cortex (V6A). Single-unit activity was recorded from V6A in two Macaca fascicularis monkeys performing a fixation-to-reach task to targets at different depths and directions. We found that in a substantial percentage of V6A neurons depth and direction signals jointly influenced fixation, planning and arm movement-related activity in 3D space. While target depth and direction were equally encoded during fixation, depth tuning became stronger during arm movement planning, execution and target holding. The spatial tuning of fixation activity was often maintained across epochs, and this occurred more frequently in depth. These findings support for the first time the existence of a common neural substrate for the encoding of target depth and direction during reaching movements in the posterior parietal cortex. Present results also highlight the presence in V6A of several types of cells that process independently or jointly eye position and arm movement planning and execution signals in order to control reaches in 3D space. It is possible that depth and direction influence also the metrics of the reach action and that this effect on the reach kinematic variables can account for the spatial tuning we found in V6A neural activity. For this reason, we recorded and analyzed behavioral data when one monkey performed reaching movements in 3-D space. We evaluated how the target spatial position, in particular target depth and target direction, affected the kinematic parameters and trajectories describing the motor action properties.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Bertozzi, Federica
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze mediche e chirurgiche cliniche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
reach, sensorimotor, depth, direction, kinematics
Data di discussione
7 Maggio 2013

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