Space representation for eye movements is more contralateral in monkeys than in humans.


Contralateral hemispheric representation of sensory inputs (the right visual hemifield in the left hemisphere and vice versa) is a fundamental feature of primate sensorimotor organization, in particular the visuomotor system. However, many higher-order cognitive functions in humans show an asymmetric hemispheric lateralization--e.g., right brain specialization for spatial processing--necessitating a convergence of information from both hemifields. Electrophysiological studies in monkeys and functional imaging in humans have investigated space and action representations at different stages of visuospatial processing, but the transition from contralateral to unified global spatial encoding and the relationship between these encoding schemes and functional lateralization are not fully understood. Moreover, the integration of data across monkeys and humans and elucidation of interspecies homologies is hindered, because divergent findings may reflect actual species differences or arise from discrepancies in techniques and measured signals (electrophysiology vs. imaging). Here, we directly compared spatial cue and memory representations for action planning in monkeys and humans using event-related functional MRI during a working-memory oculomotor task. In monkeys, cue and memory-delay period activity in the frontal, parietal, and temporal regions was strongly contralateral. In putative human functional homologs, the contralaterality was significantly weaker, and the asymmetry between the hemispheres was stronger. These results suggest an inverse relationship between contralaterality and lateralization and elucidate similarities and differences in human and macaque cortical circuits subserving spatial awareness and oculomotor goal-directed actions.

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1002825107

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