Depth information is necessary for adjusting the hand to the three-dimensional (3-D) shape of an object to grasp it. The transformation of visual information into appropriate distal motor commands is critically dependent on the anterior intraparietal area (AIP) and the ventral premotor cortex (area F5), particularly the F5p sector. Recent studies have demonstrated that both AIP and the F5a sector of the ventral premotor cortex contain neurons that respond selectively to disparity-defined 3-D shape. To investigate the neural coding of 3-D shape and the behavioral role of 3-D shape-selective neurons in these two areas, we recorded single-cell activity in AIP and F5a during passive fixation of curved surfaces and during grasping of real-world objects. Similar to those in AIP, F5a neurons were either first- or second-order disparity selective, frequently showed selectivity for discrete approximations of smoothly curved surfaces that contained disparity discontinuities, and exhibited mostly monotonic tuning for the degree of disparity variation. Furthermore, in both areas, 3-D shape-selective neurons were colocalized with neurons that were active during grasping of real-world objects. Thus, area AIP and F5a contain highly similar representations of 3-D shape, which is consistent with the proposed transfer of object information from AIP to the motor system through the ventral premotor cortex.

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