Reach Plans in Eye-Centered Coordinates

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Science  09 Jul 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5425, pp. 257-260
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5425.257

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The neural events associated with visually guided reaching begin with an image on the retina and end with impulses to the muscles. In between, a reaching plan is formed. This plan could be in the coordinates of the arm, specifying the direction and amplitude of the movement, or it could be in the coordinates of the eye because visual information is initially gathered in this reference frame. In a reach-planning area of the posterior parietal cortex, neural activity was found to be more consistent with an eye-centered than an arm-centered coding of reach targets. Coding of arm movements in an eye-centered reference frame is advantageous because obstacles that affect planning as well as errors in reaching are registered in this reference frame. Also, eye movements are planned in eye coordinates, and the use of similar coordinates for reaching may facilitate hand-eye coordination.

  • * Present address: Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Fairchild Building, Room D209, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.

  • Present address: Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Box 8108, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: andersen{at}

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