It is generally accepted that interactions between parietal and frontal cortices subserve the visuomotor processing for eye and hand movements. Here, we used a sequential-instruction paradigm in 3-T functional MRI to test the processing of effector and spatial signals, as well as their interaction, as a movement is composed and executed in different stages. Subjects prepared either a saccade or a reach following two successive visual instruction cues, presented in either order. One cue instructed which effector to use (eyes, right hand); the other signaled the spatial goal (leftward vs. rightward target location) of the movement. During the first phase of the prepared movement, after cueing of either goal or effector information, we found significant spatial goal selectivity but no effector specificity along the parietofrontal network. During the second phase of the prepared movement, when both goal and effector information were available, we found a large overlap in the neural circuitry involved in the planning of eye and hand movements. Gradually distributed along this network, we observed clear spatial goal selectivity and limited, but significant, effector specificity. Regions in the intraparietal sulcus and the dorsal premotor cortex were selective to both goal location and motor effector. Taken together, our results suggest that the relative weight of spatial goal and effector selectivity changes along the parietofrontal network, depending on the status of the movement plan.
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