News FocusNeuroscience

The Mapmaking Mind

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Science  09 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5425, pp. 189-192
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5425.189

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Studies in monkeys are revealing how the brain manipulates maps of sensory information to guide our movements through the world around us. In a series of recent experiments, including one described on page 257 of this issue, neuroscientists eavesdropping on neurons in monkeys are finding that as the brain passes information along the pathway from sensation to movement, it modifies the maps, adding information to them and replotting them in coordinates that are useful for the movements it needs to direct. The experiments have pinpointed areas where the transformation is largely complete and areas where it appears to be in process. And they suggest that the default frame of reference in the primate brain seems to be the visual world, perhaps reflecting an overriding importance of vision among the senses.