Egocentric tactile perception is crucial for skilled hand motor control. In order to better understand the brain functional underpinnings related to this basic sensorial perception, we performed a tactile perception functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment with two aims.
The first aim consisted of characterizing the neural substrate of two types of egocentric tactile discrimination: the spatial localization (SLD) and simultaneity succession discrimination (SSD) in both hands to define hemispheric dominance for these tasks. The second goal consisted of characterizing the brain activation related to the spatial attentional load, the functional changes and their connectivity patterns induced by the psychometric performance (PP) during SLD. We used fMRI in 25 right-handed volunteers, applying pairs of sinusoidal vibratory stimuli on eight different positions in the palmar surface of both hands.Subjects were required either to identify the stimulus location with respect to an imaginary midline (SLD), to discriminate the simultaneity or succession of a stimuli pair (SSD) or to simply respond to stimulus detection.
We found a fronto-parietal network for SLD and frontal network for SSD. During SLD we identified right hemispheric dominance with increased BOLD activation and functional interaction of the right supramarginal gyrus with contralateral intra-parietal sulcus for right and left hand independently. Brain activity correlated to spatial attentional load was found in bilateral structures of intra-parietal sulcus, precuneus extended to superior parietal lobule, pre-supplementary motor area, frontal eye fields and anterior insulae for both hands.
We suggest that the right supramarginal gyrus and its interaction with intra-parietal lobule may play a pivotal role in the phenomenon of tactile neglect in right fronto-parietal lesions.
CITATION Neuroimage. 2011 Mar 15;55(2):635-43. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.12.011.
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