Coding the Locations of Objects in the Dark

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Science  11 Jul 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5323, pp. 239-241
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5323.239

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The ventral premotor cortex in primates is thought to be involved in sensory-motor integration. Many of its neurons respond to visual stimuli in the space near the arms or face. In this study on the ventral premotor cortex of monkeys, an object was presented within the visual receptive fields of individual neurons, then the lights were turned off and the object was silently removed. A subset of the neurons continued to respond in the dark as if the object were still present and visible. Such cells exhibit “object permanence,” encoding the presence of an object that is no longer visible. These cells may underlie the ability to reach toward or avoid objects that are no longer directly visible.

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