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Neuroimage. 2006 Jun;31(2):649-60. Epub 2006 Feb 3.

Neural correlates of counting of sequential sensory and motor events in the human brain.

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Human Motor Control Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Room 5N226, 10 Center Drive MSC 1428, Bethesda, MD 20892-1428, USA.


Little is known about the ability to enumerate small numbers of successive stimuli and movements. It is possible that there exist neural substrates that are consistently recruited both to count sensory stimuli from different modalities and for counting movements executed by different effectors. Here, we identify a network of areas that was involved in enumerating small numbers of auditory, visual, and somatosensory stimuli, and in enumerating sequential movements of hands and feet, in the bilateral premotor cortex, presupplementary motor area, posterior temporal cortex, and thalamus. The most significant consistent activation across sensory and motor counting conditions was found in the lateral premotor cortex. Lateral premotor activation was not dependent on movement preparation, stimulus presentation timing, or number word verbalization. Movement counting, but not sensory counting, activated the anterior parietal cortex. This anterior parietal area may correspond to an area recruited for movement counting identified by recent single-neuron studies in monkeys. These results suggest that overlapping but not identical networks of areas are involved in counting sequences of sensory stimuli and sequences of movements in the human brain.

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