Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Primates use vision to guide their actions in everyday life. Visually guided object grasping is known to rely on a network of cortical areas located in the parietal and premotor cortex. We recorded in the anterior intraparietal area (AIP), an area in the dorsal visual stream that is critical for object grasping and densely connected with the premotor cortex, while monkeys were grasping objects under visual guidance and during passive fixation of videos of grasping actions from the first-person perspective. All AIP neurons in this study responded during grasping execution in the light, that is, became more active after the hand had started to move toward the object and during grasping in the dark. More than half of these AIP neurons responded during the observation of a video of the same grasping actions on a display. Furthermore, these AIP neurons responded as strongly during passive fixation of movements of a hand on a scrambled background and to a lesser extent to a shape appearing within the visual field near the object. Therefore, AIP neurons responding during grasping execution also respond during passive observation of grasping actions and most of them even during passive observation of movements of a simple shape in the visual field.