The role of medial parieto occipital cortex in visuospatial attention and reach planning: electrophysiological studies in human and non-human primates

Ciavarro, Marco (2013) The role of medial parieto occipital cortex in visuospatial attention and reach planning: electrophysiological studies in human and non-human primates, [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/5930.
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We usually perform actions in a dynamic environment and changes in the location of a target for an upcoming action require both covert shifts of attention and motor planning update. In this study we tested whether, similarly to oculomotor areas that provide signals for overt and covert attention shifts, covert attention shifts modulate activity in cortical area V6A, which provides a bridge between visual signals and arm-motor control. We performed single cell recordings in monkeys trained to fixate straight-ahead while shifting attention outward to a peripheral cue and inward again to the fixation point. We found that neurons in V6A are influenced by spatial attention demonstrating that visual, motor, and attentional responses can occur in combination in single neurons of V6A. This modulation in an area primarily involved in visuo-motor transformation for reaching suggests that also reach-related regions could directly contribute in the shifts of spatial attention necessary to plan and control goal-directed arm movements. Moreover, to test whether V6A is causally involved in these processes, we have performed a human study using on-line repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over the putative human V6A (pV6A) during an attention and a reaching task requiring covert shifts of attention and reaching movements towards cued targets in space. We demonstrate that the pV6A is causally involved in attention reorienting to target detection and that this process interferes with the execution of reaching movements towards unattended targets. The current findings suggest the direct involvement of the action-related dorso-medial visual stream in attentional processes, and a more specific role of V6A in attention reorienting. Therefore, we propose that attention signals are used by the V6A to rapidly update the current motor plan or the ongoing action when a behaviorally relevant object unexpectedly appears at an unattended location.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Ciavarro, Marco
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze mediche e chirurgiche cliniche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Data di discussione
7 Maggio 2013

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