Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)
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Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) participates in the planning of visuospatial behaviors, including reach movements, in gaze-centered coordinates. It is not known if these representations encode the visual goal in retinal coordinates, or the movement direction relative to gaze. Here, by dissociating the intrinsic retinal stimulus from the extrinsic direction of movement, we show that PPC employs a visual code. Using delayed pointing and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we identified a cluster of PPC regions whose activity was topographically (contralaterally) related to the direction of the planned movement. We then switched the normal visual-motor spatial relationship by adapting subjects to optical left/right reversing prisms. With prisms, movement-related PPC topography reversed, remaining tied to the retinal image. Thus, remarkably, the PPC region in each hemisphere now responded more for planned ipsilateral pointing movements. Other non-PPC regions showed the opposite world- or motor-fixed pattern. These findings suggest that PPC primarily encodes not motor commands but movement goals in visual coordinates.