How the brain maps visual targets

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Toronto, Jan 16 (IANS) York university researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have discovered how a map in the mid-brain region remembers the location of visual targets even as the eyes follow another object.

“As the eyes move, activity related to the remembered target travels across the ‘visual’ cells in the mid-brain superior colliculus, constantly keeping track of its location relative to the direction the eyes are currently pointed,” said professor J. Douglas Crawford, Canada research chair in visual-motor neuroscience.

Like in a football game “when it is time to aim an eye movement and then make a pass toward the open receiver, the visual memory is transferred to motor cells which then produce a burst of activity”.

In the study led by postdoctoral fellow Suryadeep Dash, the researchers discovered a new physiological system that continuously updates the remembered location of visual targets.

The finding also suggest that continuous updating of signals could emerge in other visual-motor areas of the brain.

“We expect that continuous updating signals also emerge in other visual-motor areas of the brain,” Crawford added.

“Studying this system might help us understand how we remember where things are during other continuous motion behaviour such as walking, driving or general navigation,” he said.

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.


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