Journal of Neuroscience vol:28 issue:26 pages:6679-6690
The analysis of object shape is critical for both object recognition and grasping. Areas in the intraparietal sulcus of the rhesus monkey are important for the visuomotor transformations underlying actions directed toward objects. The lateral intraparietal (LIP) area has strong anatomical connections with the anterior intraparietal area, which is known to control the shaping of the hand during grasping, and LIP neurons can respond selectively to simple two-dimensional shapes. Here we investigate the shape representation in area LIP of awake rhesus monkeys. Specifically, we determined to what extent LIP neurons are tuned to shape dimensions known to be relevant for grasping and assessed the invariance of their shape preferences with regard to changes in stimulus size and position in the receptive field. Most LIP neurons proved to be significantly tuned to multiple shape dimensions. The population of LIP neurons that were tested showed barely significant size invariance. Position invariance was present in a minority of the neurons tested. Many LIP neurons displayed spurious shape selectivity arising from accidental interactions between the stimulus and the receptive field. We observed pronounced differences in the receptive field profiles determined by presenting two different shapes. Almost all LIP neurons showed spatially selective saccadic activity, but the receptive field for saccades did not always correspond to the receptive field as determined using shapes. Our results demonstrate that a subpopulation of LIP neurons encodes stimulus shape. Furthermore, the shape representation in the dorsal visual stream appears to differ radically from the known representation of shape in the ventral visual stream.