The parietal cortex receives both visual- and motor-related information and is believed to be one of the sites of visuo-motor coordination. This study for the first time characterizes integration of visual and motor information in activity of neurons of parietal area 5 during locomotion under conditions that require visuo-motor coordination. The activity of neurons was recorded in cats during walking on a flat surface-a task with no visuo-motor coordination required (flat locomotion), walking along a horizontal ladder or a series of barriers-a task requiring visuo-motor coordination for an accurate foot placement on surface that is heterogeneous along the direction of progression (ladder and barriers locomotion), and walking along a narrow pathway-a task requiring visuo-motor coordination on surface homogeneous along the direction of progression (narrow locomotion). During flat locomotion, activity of 66% of the neurons was modulated in rhythm of stepping, usually with one peak per cycle. During ladder and barrier locomotion, the proportion of rhythmically active neurons significantly increased, their modulation became stronger, and the majority of neurons had two peaks of activity per cycle. During narrow locomotion, however, the activity of neurons was similar to that during flat locomotion. We concluded that, during locomotion, parietal area 5 integrates two types of information: signals about the activity of basic locomotion mechanisms and signals about heterogeneity of the surface along the direction of progression. We describe here the modes of integration of these two types of information during locomotion.
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