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ABSTRACT: Brain control of prehension is thought to rely on two specific brain circuits: a dorsomedial one (involving the areas of the superior parietal lobule and the dorsal premotor cortex) involved in the transport of the hand toward the object and a dorsolateral one (involving the inferior parietal lobule and the ventral premotor cortex) dealing with the preshaping of the hand according to the features of the object. The present study aimed at testing whether a pivotal component of the dorsomedial pathway (area V6A) is involved also in hand preshaping and grip formation to grasp objects of different shapes. Two macaque monkeys were trained to reach and grasp different objects. For each object, animals used a different grip: whole-hand prehension, finger prehension, hook grip, primitive precision grip, and advanced precision grip. Almost half of 235 neurons recorded from V6A displayed selectivity for a grip or a group of grips. Several experimental controls were used to ensure that neural modulation was attributable to grip only. These findings, in concert with previous studies demonstrating that V6A neurons are modulated by reach direction and wrist orientation, that lesion of V6A evokes reaching and grasping deficits, and that dorsal premotor cortex contains both reaching and grasping neurons, indicate that the dorsomedial parieto-frontal circuit may play a central role in all phases of reach-to-grasp action. Our data suggest new directions for the modeling of prehension movements and testable predictions for new brain imaging and neuropsychological experiments.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2010; 30(1):342-9. · 6.91 Impact Factor