Research Article

Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 188, Issue 1, pp 63-75

First online:

Gaze influences finger movement-related and visual-related activation across the human brain

  • Patrick BédardAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • , Arul ThangavelAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Alpert Medical School of Brown University
  • , Jerome N. SanesAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Alpert Medical School of Brown University Email author 

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The brain uses gaze orientation to organize myriad spatial tasks including hand movements. However, the neural correlates of gaze signals and their interaction with brain systems for arm movement control remain unresolved. Many studies have shown that gaze orientation modifies neuronal spike discharge in monkeys and activation in humans related to reaching and finger movements in parietal and frontal areas. To continue earlier studies that addressed interaction of horizontal gaze and hand movements in humans (Baker et al. 1999), we assessed how horizontal and vertical gaze deviations modified finger-related activation, hypothesizing that areas throughout the brain would exhibit movement-related activation that depended on gaze angle. The results indicated finger movement-related activation related to combinations of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal gaze deviations. We extended our prior findings to observation of these gaze-dependent effects in visual cortex, parietal cortex, motor, supplementary motor area, putamen, and cerebellum. Most significantly, we found a modulation bias for increased activation toward rightward, upper-right and vertically upward gaze deviations. Our results indicate that gaze modulation of finger movement-related regions in the human brain is spatially organized and could subserve sensorimotor transformations.


Finger movement Functional MRI Gaze position Human