Journal Article

Impairment of Gaze-centered Updating of Reach Targets in Bilateral Parietal–Occipital Damaged Patients

Aarlenne Z. Khan, Laure Pisella, Yves Rossetti, Alain Vighetto and J. Douglas Crawford

in Cerebral Cortex

Volume 15, issue 10, pages 1547-1560
Published in print October 2005 | ISSN: 1047-3211
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2199 | DOI:

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Recent studies have suggested that internal updating of visuospatial targets in humans occurs in gaze-centered coordinates and takes place in the parietal and extrastriate cortices. We explored how information for reaching is updated in two patients with bilateral lesions in these areas. Subjects performed two visuomotor tasks: (i) a fixation reaching task, which began with the appearance of one of five fixation positions (varying eye positions) followed by a central reaching target. Subjects reached to the target while fixating on the presented fixation position (relative to gaze the target was always presented in the periphery); and (ii) a saccade reaching task, in which subjects foveated on the central reaching target, then made a saccade to the presented fixation position before reaching to the central target. In both tasks, subjects reached to targets after a 500 or 5000 ms delay. Gaze-centered updating predicts similarities in reaching errors between fixation and saccade trials. Control subjects showed evidence for gaze-centered updating during both 500 and 5000 ms delay conditions. In contrast, patient AT, who had extensive occipital–parietal damage, only showed signs of gaze-centered representation after 5 s. Patient IG, with a more focal lesion in the parietal cortices, showed partial updating in gaze-centered coordinates when reaching with the small memory delay but recovered a complete gaze-centered representation after the longer delay. This suggests that patients with bilateral occipital–parietal lesions may rely on non-gaze-centered frames to store immediate target locations in reaching space but, given enough time, this information may be rerouted to access other gaze-centered motor cortical mechanisms.

Keywords: eye-centered coordinates; eye–hand coordination; optic ataxia; posterior parietal cortex; reference frames; visual updating

Journal Article.  9752 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience