Understanding the organisation of the medial parietal cortex: Sensorimotor integration for goal-directed behaviour

Like other primates, we use our hands extensively to explore and interact with objects in the environment, guided by sensory information. One of the brain regions known to be involved in the direction of arm movements is the medial parietal cortex, which is the focus of the present study. Stroke affecting this part of the brain causes disability, as people become unable to reach accurately to objects of interest. Revealing the brain circuitry responsible for skilled arm movements can have profound implications for the creation of new technologies such as artificial limbs, and result in health benefits. However, the brain mechanisms underlying these capacities are poorly understood. For example, it is recognized that this region has multiple subdivisions, but how exactly these interact in allowing the sensory information to guide arm muscles is unclear. This project will be focused on understanding how reaching movements are encoded in the medial parietal cortex, and how information from the different senses influences these movements. Most of the progress to-date in understanding how such abilities are controlled has come from work using the monkey preparation, which forms one of the bases of the present application. The project will combine modern physiological and anatomical methods, with two principle aims: 1) to provide a detailed account of the anatomy of this region, utilizing tracer injections (guided by MRI) and mapping of sensory (visual, somatosensory) responses (outgoing phase), and 2) to provide a functional account of the region, by recording the electrical activity of the brain of monkeys trained to reach to visual and proprioceptive targets (return phase). Experiments will be conducted in Australia and Italy, in collaboration with scientists who have pioneered on non-human primate research. Through this interaction, the Fellow will acquire breadth of expertise and a range of academic contacts, significant for the advancement of her career.


 - Dip. di Farmacia e Biotecnologie-FABIT

- Resp. Scientifico: Prof.ssa Patrizia Fattori

Other participants:
Monash University (Australia)


Start date 01/02/2013

End date 31/01/2016

Duration 36 months 

Project Reference 300452

Project cost 370.486,80 EURO 

Project Funding370.486,80 EURO


Subprogramme Area Marie-Curie Actions-International Outgoing Fellowships (IOF)

Contract typeInternational Outgoing Fellowships (IOF)