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Maintaining internal representations: the role of the human superior parietal lobe

Abstract

In sensorimotor integration, sensory input and motor output signals are combined to provide an internal estimate of the state of both the world and one's own body. Although a single perceptual and motor snapshot can provide information about the current state, computational models show that the state can be optimally estimated by a recursive process in which an internal estimate is maintained and updated by the current sensory and motor signals. These models predict that an internal state estimate is maintained or stored in the brain. Here we report a patient with a lesion of the superior parietal lobe who shows both sensory and motor deficits consistent with an inability to maintain such an internal representation between updates. Our findings suggest that the superior parietal lobe is critical for sensorimotor integration, by maintaining an internal representation of the body's state.

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Figure 1: A schematic of the sensorimotor integration process.
Figure 2: The lesion found in the patient P.
Figure 3: Mean time to fade (with standard error bars) against the mass of the object placed on PJ's right hand.
Figure 4: Grip force against time when trying to maintain a constant force level with and without visual feedback of performance.
Figure 5: Perceived drift of right arm.
Figure 6

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Acknowledgements

We thank PJ for participating in the study and Jon Driver and Tobe Freeman for helpful discussions. This work was supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust and the Royal Society.

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Correspondence to Daniel M. Wolpert.

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Wolpert, D., Goodbody, S. & Husain, M. Maintaining internal representations: the role of the human superior parietal lobe. Nat Neurosci 1, 529–533 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/2245

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