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Neuroimage. 2007;36 Suppl 2:T94-T108. Epub 2007 Mar 31.

Does tool-related fMRI activity within the intraparietal sulcus reflect the plan to grasp?

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Neuroscience Program, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Neuroimaging investigations reliably describe a left-lateralized network of areas as underlying the representations of knowledge about familiar tools. Among the critical 'nodes' of the network, an area centered within the left intraparietal sulcus (IPS) is thought to be related to the motoric representations associated with familiar tools and their usage. This area is in the vicinity of an area implicated in the control of object-directed grasping actions: the anterior intraparietal area, AIP. The current study aimed to evaluate whether this tool-related intraparietal activity could be accounted for by the graspable nature of tools or whether it was due to additional factors such as the functionality of tools. First, we found that during a naming task activation within a discrete region of the left anterior intraparietal cortex was higher for tools than for graspable objects, but did not differ between graspable and non-graspable objects. In addition, the peak activity associated with tool naming was found to be largely distinct and consistently posterior to that associated with real object grasping. A separate region, anterior to the tool-selective focus and possibly overlapping with AIP, demonstrated weak selectivity for both tools and graspable objects relative to non-graspable objects. These findings indicate that this tool-selective area at the anterior end of the left IPS is both separable from the grasp-related intraparietal activity and, consistently, it does not simply reflect the processing of grasping affordances. Taken together, these results suggest that object graspability alone cannot account for the left intraparietal activity driven by the naming of tools. Instead, this activity may relate to learned motor representations associated with the skillful use of familiar tools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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