Target Selection for Reaching and Saccades Share a Similar Behavioral Reference Frame in the Macaque Academic Article uri icon


  • The selection of one of two visual stimuli as a target for a motor action may depend on external as well as internal variables. We examined whether the preference to select a leftward or rightward target depends on the action that is performed (eye or arm movement) and to what extent the choice is influenced by the target location. Two targets were presented at the same distance to the left and right of a fixation position and the stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) was adjusted until both targets were selected equally often. This balanced SOA time is then a quantitative measure of selection preference. In two macaque monkeys tested, we found the balanced SOA shifted to the left side for left-arm movements and to the right side for right-arm movements. Target selection strongly depended on the horizontal target location. By varying eye, head, and trunk position, we found this dependency embedded in a head-centered behavioral reference frame for saccade targets and, somewhat counter-intuitively, for reach targets as well. Target selection for reach movements was influenced by the eye position, while saccade target selection was unaffected by the arm position. These findings suggest that the neural processes underlying target selection for a reaching movement are to a large extent independent of the coordinate frame ultimately used to make the limb movement, but are instead closely linked to the coordinate frame used to plan a saccade to that target. This similarity may be indicative of a common spatial framework for hand-eye coordination.

publication date

  • March 1, 2003