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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Jan 31;46(2):567-75. Epub 2007 Oct 10.

Proprio-tactile integration for kinesthetic perception: an fMRI study.

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Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Humaine, UMR 6149, CNRS - Aix-Marseille Université, 3 place V. Hugo, 13331 Marseille, France.


This study aims to identify the cerebral networks involved in the integrative processing of somesthetic inputs for kinesthetic purposes. In particular, we investigated how muscle proprioceptive and tactile messages can result in a unified percept of one's own body movements. We stimulated either separately or conjointly these two sensory channels in order to evoke kinesthetic illusions of a clockwise rotation of 10 subjects' right hand in an fMRI environment. Results first show that, whether induced by a tactile or a proprioceptive stimulation, the kinesthetic illusion was accompanied by the activation of a very similar cerebral network including cortical and subcortical sensorimotor areas, which are also classically found in passive or imagined movement tasks. In addition, the strongest kinesthetic illusions occurred under the congruent proprio-tactile co-stimulation condition. They were specifically associated to brain area activations distinct from those evidenced under the unimodal stimulations: the inferior parietal lobule, the superior temporal sulcus, the insula-claustrum region, and the cerebellum. These findings support the hypothesis that heteromodal areas may subserve multisensory integrative mechanisms at cortical and subcortical levels. They also suggest the integrative processing might consist of detection of the spatial coherence between the two kinesthetic messages involving the inferior parietal lobule activity and of a detection of their temporal coincidence via a subcortical relay, the insula structure, usually linked to the relative synchrony of different stimuli. Finally, the involvement of the superior temporal sulcus in the feeling of biological movement and that of the cerebellum in the movement timing control are also discussed.

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