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Cortical processing of tactile direction discrimination based on spatiotemporal cues in man.

Journal article
Authors Linda Lundblad
Håkan Olausson
Anna-Karin Hermansson
Helena Backlund Wasling
Published in Neuroscience letters
Volume 501
Issue 1
Pages 45-9
ISSN 1872-7972
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Pages 45-9
Language en
Subject categories Medical and Health Sciences


Tactile direction discrimination (TDD), the ability to determine the direction of an object's movement across the skin, is used clinically to detect and quantify tactile dysfunction. We have previously identified a cortical network for TDD based on skin stretch information that includes the second somatosensory, anterior insular and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. In the present study we investigated cortical processing of TDD based on spatiotemporal cues. Sixteen healthy subjects (8 females; mean age, 25.5 years; range, 23-32 years) were stimulated with a low-friction, spatiotemporal rolling wheel on the right thigh during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The subjects were instructed to indicate the distal or proximal rolling direction of the stimulus. The fMRI contrast between rolling wheel stimulation and rest showed activations in several areas which included the left (contralateral) primary somatosensory, bilateral second somatosensory, bilateral anterior insular, and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. We conclude that, spatiotemporal TDD is processed in a largely similar distributed cortical network as skin stretch TDD. Further, spatiotemporal TDD activated primary somatosensory cortex whereas a role for this area in processing of skin stretch TDD has not been demonstrated.

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