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Keywords:

  • functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • intraparietal sulcus;
  • somatosensory cortex;
  • active touch;
  • passive touch;
  • index finger

Abstract

Intra-active touch (IAT) is a process that involves a body part doing the touching (active touch [AT]) and another body part being touched (passive touch [PT]) simultaneously. The brain representation related to IAT is still unclear. A total of 23 subjects carried out angle discrimination under PT, AT and IAT conditions with functional magnetic resonance imaging. All of the tasks were strictly dependent on cutaneous feedback from the finger(s). As the subjects were able to perceive the angle stimuli from the right (touching) and left (touched) sides during the IAT condition, we expected there would be greater brain activation with the IAT condition than for the AT or PT condition. Therefore, we hypothesized that the region within and/or around the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and the part of the primary somatosensory cortex (SI) that is associated with high-level tactile spatial processing would be more active during the IAT task than during the AT and PT tasks. Compared with the areas activated by the motor somatosensory control task, the most prominent activation areas evoked by the three-angle discrimination tasks were in the SI and secondary somatosensory cortex areas in the bilateral parietal operculum, IPS, lateral occipital complex, insula and cerebellum. Finally, we directly compared IAT with AT and PT, and the results suggest that the contralateral part of IPS and part of the SI are more active under IAT conditions than under either AT or PT conditions. These results suggest that both hemispheres contribute to angle discrimination during IAT. Hum Brain Mapp, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.