A spatial memory signal shows that the parietal cortex has access to a craniotopic representation of space
Humans effortlessly establish a gist-like memory of their environment whenever they enter a new place, a memory that can guide action even in the absence of vision. Neurons in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) of the monkey exhibit a form of this environmental memory. These neurons respond when a monkey makes a saccade that brings the spatial location of a stimulus that appeared on a number of prior trials, but not on the present trial, into their receptive fields (RFs). The stimulus need never have appeared in the neuron’s RF. This memory response is usually weaker, with a longer latency than the neuron’s visual response. We suggest that these results demonstrate that LIP has access to a supraretinal memory of space, which is activated when the spatial location of the vanished stimulus can be described by a retinotopic vector from the center of gaze to the remembered spatial location.
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