Human fMRI reveals that delayed action re-recruits visual perception.

Article English OPEN
Anthony Singhal ; Simona Monaco ; Liam D Kaufman ; Jody C Culham
  • Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
  • Journal: PLoS ONE, volume 8, issue 9 (issn: 1932-6203, eissn: 1932-6203)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073629, pmc: PMC3765269
  • Subject: Q | R | Research Article | Brain; Brain Mapping; Hand Strength; Humans; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Visual Cortex; Visual Perception; Grasping | Science | Medicine
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Behavioral and neuropsychological research suggests that delayed actions rely on different neural substrates than immediate actions; however, the specific brain areas implicated in the two types of actions remain unknown. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure human brain activation during delayed grasping and reaching. Specifically, we examined activation during visual stimulation and action execution separated by a 18-s delay interval in which subjects had to remember an intended action toward the remembered object. The long delay interval enabled us to unambiguously distinguish visual, memory-related, and action responses. Most strikingly, we observed reactivation of the lateral occipital complex (LOC), a ventral-stream area implicated in visual object recognition, and early visual cortex (EVC) at the time of action. Importantly this reactivation was observed even though participants remained in complete darkness with no visual stimulation at the time of the action. Moreover, within EVC, higher activation was observed for grasping than reaching during both vision and action execution. Areas in the dorsal visual stream were activated during action execution as expected and, for some, also during vision. Several areas, including the anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS), dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), primary motor cortex (M1) and the supplementary motor area (SMA), showed sustained activation during the delay phase. We propose that during delayed actions, dorsal-stream areas plan and maintain coarse action goals; however, at the time of execution, motor programming requires re-recruitment of detailed visual information about the object through reactivation of (1) ventral-stream areas involved in object perception and (2) early visual areas that contain richly detailed visual representations, particularly for grasping.
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