Letter | Published:

Role of Experience in Misreaching produced by Visual Cortex Lesions

Nature volume 192, page 1319 (30 December 1961) | Download Citation



WHEN the macular projection area—that part of the visual striate cortex to which the macular region of the retina projects—is removed in monkeys a characteristic symptom can be demonstrated. The animal frequently misreaches for small pieces of food when they are presented to him on a flat surface1,2. The error involved may be as much as three inches, and two inches is common. It is the direction of the object, rather than the distance, which is usually gauged incorrectly by the animal; that is, his fingers fall to the sides of the object rather than beyond or in front of it. The direction of the error appears to depend primarily on which hand is used, misreaching to the left tending to occur when the left hand is used and misreaching to the right when the right hand is used. The position of the food relative to the animal's body is also important. This type of behaviour is often called ‘past-pointing’; but since the error tends to be one of direction rather than distance, and also because past-pointing is also used to refer to vestibular or cerebellar derangement, we prefer to use the term ‘misreaching’.

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  1. 1.

    , Uber die Funktionen der Grosshirnrinde, 3te Mitteilung, 28 (Hirschwald, Berlin, 1881).

  2. 2.

    , in Current Problems in Animal Behaviour, edit. by Thorpe, W. H., and Zangwill, O. L. (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1961).

  3. 3.

    , Ph.D. dissertation, Univ. of Cambridge (1961); and Nature (in the press).

  4. 4.

    , Handbook of Experimental Psychology, Chap. 7, edit. by Stevens, S. S. (Wiley and Sons, New York, 1951).

  5. 5.

    , and , J. Comp. Physiol. Psychol., 54, 33 (1961).

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  1. Psychological Laboratory, Cambridge.

    • A. COWEY
    •  & L. WEISKRANTZ


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