Representations of visual proportions in the primate posterior parietal and prefrontal cortices.
Vallentin D, Nieder A – 2010
The primate prefrontal (PFC) and posterior parietal cortices (PPC) have been shown to be cardinal structures in processing abstract absolute magnitudes, such as numerosity or length. The neuronal representation of quantity relations, however, remained largely elusive. Recent functional imaging studies in humans showed that blood flow changes systematically both in the PFC and the PPC as a function of relational distance between proportions. We investigated the response properties of single neurons in the lateral PFC and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL, area 7) in rhesus monkeys performing a lengths-proportion-discrimination task. Neurons in both areas shared many characteristics and showed peaked tuning functions with preferred proportions. However, a significantly higher percentage of neurons coding proportions was found in the PFC compared with the IPL. In agreement with human studies, our study shows that proportions are represented in the fronto-parietal network that has already been implicated for absolute magnitude processing.