Second Julesz Lecture on Brain Research Abstract

Historically the posterior aspect of the parietal lobe has been considered solely a sensory area that associates sensory modalities and regulates attention.  However, recent studies have demonstrated that it has a major role in visually guided actions, including the representation of intentions, formation of movement plans, and decision making.  Moreover, the posterior parietal cortex contains a map of intentions, with sub-areas specialized for eye movements, reaching, and grasping.  Small inactivations of these sub-areas produce specific deficits consistent with this intention map.  These findings form the basis for the design of cognitive neural prosthetics, which are envisioned to read out the intent of paralyzed patients to control assistive devices such as robotic limbs and computer tablets.

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