‘Arm-reaching’ neurons in the parietal area V6A of the macaque monkey


: Dr P. Fattori, as above.
E-mail: pfattori@biocfarm.unibo.it


In previous experiments we have found that several cells of area V6A in the macaque superior parietal lobule were activated by small and stereotyped movements of the arms (C. Galletti, P. Fattori, D. F. Kutz & P. P. Battaglini, Eur. J. Neurosci., 1997, 9, 410). This behaviour was not accounted for by retinal information, nor by somatosensory inputs from the arms. We now want to investigate whether V6A neurons are modulated by purposeful movements aimed at reaching visual targets or targets located outside the field of view. V6A neuronal activity was collected while monkeys performed arm movements during an instructed-delay reaching task in darkness. The task required the animal to reach out for a visual target in the peripersonal space and to bring the hand back to its body. Quantitative analysis of neuronal activity carried out on 55 V6A neurons showed that: (i) the great majority of neurons (71%) was significantly modulated during the execution of arm movements; (ii) 30% of neurons were significantly modulated during preparation of reaching; and (iii) modulations during both execution and preparation of reaching occurred in the absence of any visual feedback and were not due to eye movements. V6A reach-related neurons could be useful in guiding the hand to reach its target with or without visual feedback.