Author(s): SimesFranklin C, Whitaker TA, Newell FN
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Abstract The neural mechanisms behind active and passive touch are not yet fully understood. Using fMRI we investigated the brain correlates of these exploratory procedures using a roughness categorization task. Participants either actively explored a surface (active touch) or the surface was moved under the participant's stationary finger (passive touch). The stimuli consisted of three different grades of sandpaper which participants were required to categorize as either coarse, medium, or fine. Exploratory procedure did not affect performance although the coarse and fine surfaces were more easily categorized than the medium surface. An initial whole brain analysis revealed activation of sensory and cognitive areas, including post-central gyrus and prefrontal cortical areas, in line with areas reported in previous studies. Our main analysis revealed greater activation during active than passive touch in the contralateral primary somatosensory region but no effect of stimulus roughness. In contrast, activation in the parietal operculum (OP) was significantly affected by stimulus roughness but not by exploration procedure. Active touch also elicited greater and more distributed brain activity compared with passive touch in areas outside the somatosensory region, possibly due to the motor component of the task. Our results reveal that different cortical areas may be involved in the processing of surface exploration and surface texture, with exploration procedures affecting activations in the primary somatosensory cortex and stimulus properties affecting relatively higher cortical areas within the somatosensory system. Copyright © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
This article was published in Hum Brain Mapp
and referenced in Journal of Novel Physiotherapies