2012-verhagen-jneurosci

Our sensorimotor interactions with objects are guided by their current spatial and perceptual features, as well as by learned object knowledge. A fresh red tomato is grasped differently than a soft overripe tomato, even when those objects possess the same spatial metrics of size and shape. Objects’ spatial and perceptual features need to be integrated during grasping, but those features are analyzed in two anatomically distinct neural pathways. The anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) might support the integration of those features. We combine transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) interference, EEG recordings, and psychophysical methods to test aIPS causal contri- butions to sensorimotor integration, characterizing the dynamics of those contributions during motor planning. Human subjects per- forming grasping movements were provided with visual information about a target object, namely spatial and pictorial cues, whose availability and information value were independently modulated on each trial. Maximally informative visual cues, irrespective of their spatial or perceptual nature, led to enhanced motor preparatory activity early during movement planning, and to stronger spatial congruency between finger trajectories and target object. Disturbing aIPS activity with single-pulse TMS within 200 ms after object presentation reduced those electrophysiological and behavioral indices of enhanced motor planning. TMS interference with aIPS also disturbed subjects’ ability to use learned object knowledge during motor planning. These results indicate that aIPS is necessary for the fast generation of a new motor plan on the basis of both spatial and pictorial cues. Furthermore, as learned object knowledge becomes available, aIPS comes to strongly depend on this prior information for structuring the motor plan.