Experimental studies have shown that responses of ventral intraparietal area (VIP) neurons specialize in head movements and the environment near the head. VIP neurons respond to visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli, smooth pursuit eye movements, and passive and active movements of the head. This study demonstrates mathematical structure on a higher organizational level created within VIP by the integration of a complete set of variables covering face-infringement. Rather than positing dynamics in an a priori defined coordinate system such as those of physical space, we assemble neuronal receptive fields to find out what space of variables VIP neurons together cover. Section 1 presents a view of neurons as multidimensional mathematical objects. Each VIP neuron occupies or is responsive to a region in a sensorimotor phase space, thus unifying variables relevant to the disparate sensory modalities and movements. Convergence on one neuron joins variables functionally, as space and time are joined in relativistic physics to form a unified spacetime. The space of position and motion together forms a neuronal phase space, bridging neurophysiology and the physics of face-infringement. After a brief review of the experimental literature, the neuronal phase space natural to VIP is sequentially characterized, based on experimental data. Responses of neurons indicate variables that may serve as axes of neural reference frames, and neuronal responses have been so used in this study. The space of sensory and movement variables covered by VIP receptive fields joins visual and auditory space to body-bound sensory modalities: somatosensation and the inertial senses. This joining of allocentric and egocentric modalities is in keeping with the known relationship of the parietal lobe to the sense of self in space and to hemineglect, in both humans and monkeys. Following this inductive step, variables are formalized in terms of the mathematics of graph theory to deduce which combinations are complete as a multidimensional neural structure that provides the organism with a complete set of options regarding objects impacting the face, such as acceptance, pursuit, and avoidance. We consider four basic variable types: position and motion of the face and of an external object. Formalizing the four types of variables allows us to generalize to any sensory system and to determine the necessary and sufficient conditions for a neural center (for example, a cortical region) to provide a face-infringement space. We demonstrate that VIP includes at least one such face-infringement space.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gin_mccollum/1/