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When the brain is split, is space still unified?

Berman, Rebecca Ann (2004) When the brain is split, is space still unified? Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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How does the brain keep track of relevant spatial locations when the eyes move? In extrastriate, parietal and frontal cortex, and in the superior colliculus, neurons update stimulus representations in conjunction with eye movements. This updating reflects a transfer of visual information, from neurons that encode a salient location before the saccade, to neurons that encode the location after the saccade. Copies of the oculomotor command - corollary discharge signals - likely initiate this transfer. Spatial updating, or remapping, is thought to contribute to the maintenance of stable spatial representations as the eyes move. We investigated the circuitry that supports spatial updating in the primate brain. Our central hypothesis was that the forebrain commissures provide the primary route for remapping spatial locations across visual hemifields, which entails the interhemispheric transfer of visual information. Further, we hypothesized that these commissures provide the primary route for corollary discharge signals, generated in one hemisphere, to initiate spatial updating in the opposite hemisphere. We tested these hypotheses by measuring spatial behavior and neural activity in two split-brain macaques. In behavioral experiments, we observed striking initial impairments in the monkeys' ability to update stimuli across visual hemifields. Surprisingly, however, we found that both animals were ultimately capable of performing these across-hemifield sequences. Both monkeys readily performed the same spatial task when updating required an interhemispheric transfer of corollary discharge signals, suggesting that these signals are transferred via subcortical pathways in the normal monkey. In physiological experiments, we found that neurons in lateral intraparietal cortex of the split-brain monkey can remap stimuli across visual hemifields, albeit with a reduction in the strength of remapping activity. These neurons were robustly active when within-hemifield updating was initiated by a saccade into the opposite hemifield. Our findings suggest that both visual and corollary discharge signals from opposite hemispheres can converge to update spatial representations in the absence of the forebrain commissures. These investigations provide new evidence that a unified and stable representation of visual space is supported by a redundant circuit, comprised of cortical as well as subcortical pathways, with a remarkable capacity for reorganization.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Berman, Rebecca
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairColby,
Committee MemberOlson, Carlcolson@cnbc.cmu.eduOLSONC
Committee MemberMunoz,
Committee MemberFiez, Juliefiez@pitt.eduFIEZ
Committee MemberBehrmann,
Committee MemberLee, Tai
Date: 24 June 2004
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 24 April 2004
Approval Date: 24 June 2004
Submission Date: 7 May 2004
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Faculty of Arts and Sciences > Neuroscience
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: eye movements; parietal cortex; single neuron recording; spatial representation; visual perception
Other ID:, etd-05072004-113959
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:43
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:36


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