Areas of human posterior parietal cortex (PPC) specialized for processing sensorimotor information associated with visually locating an object, reaching to grasp, and manually exploring that object were examined using functional MRI. Cortical activation was observed in response to three tasks: 1) saccadic eye movements, 2) visually guided reaching to grasp, and 3) manual shape discrimination. During saccadic eye movements, cortical fields within the lateral and rostral superior parietal lobe (SPL) and the caudal SPL and parieto-occipital boundary were active. During visually guided reaching to grasp, regions of cortex within the postcentral sulcus (PoCS) and rostral intraparietal sulcus (IPS) were active, as well as the caudal SPL of the left hemisphere and the medial and caudal IPS of the right hemisphere. Cortical regions at the junction of the IPS and PoCS and an area in the medial SPL were active bilaterally during shape manipulation. Only a few regions were most active during a single motor behavior, whereas several areas were highly active during two or more tasks. Hemispheric asymmetries in activation patterns were observed during visually guided reaching to grasp. The gross areal organization of human PPC is likely similar to the pattern previously described in nonhuman primates, including multifunctional regions and asymmetric processing of some manual abilities.
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