While planning a visual task, your brain initially reflects the visual goal accurately but errors accumulate during a memory delay and further escalate during the final action, say scientists from York University.

“Think of all the times you see something and plan to act on it but after only a short delay, you make a mistake,” said professor Doug Crawford.

“For example, before my morning coffee kicks in, I’m great at making silly mistakes like putting the honey away in the fridge instead of the peanut butter,” he added.

For the study, led by Amirsaman Sajad in Crawford’s visuomotor neuroscience lab, researchers recorded signals in the frontal cortex area of the brain during the delay between target-related visual activity and intended gaze-related motor activity.

The visual response and memory activity for the time in between was then analysed.

“We looked at what happens from vision to memory to action and how the spatial code changes through time in the frontal cortex,” said Sajad.

“In the Olympics tennis analogy, when a high degree of accuracy is required, a one-second delay in frontal cortex processing could make the difference between an Olympic gold and silver,” Crawford noted.

The findings, published in the journal eNeuro, are of particular significance to research in diseases affecting frontal cortex function “because if errors accumulate in healthy individuals, the accumulations would be much worse with diseases that affect frontal cortex function,” the authors noted.

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