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Neuroimage. 2010 Jun;51(2):844-58. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.02.027. Epub 2010 Feb 22.

Premotor cortex mediates perceptual performance.

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ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan.


Articulatory goals have long been proposed to mediate perception. Examples include direct realist and constructivist (analysis by synthesis) theories of speech perception. Although the activity in brain regions involved with action production has been shown to be present during action observation (Mirror Neuron System), the relationship of this activity to perceptual performance has not been clearly demonstrated at the event level. To this end we used functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI and magnetoencephalography MEG to measure brain activity for correct and incorrect trials of an auditory phonetic identification in noise task. FMRI analysis revealed activity in the premotor cortex including the neighboring frontal opercular part of Broca's area (PMC/Broca's) for both perception and production tasks involving the same phonetic stimuli (potential mirror system site) that was significantly greater for correct over incorrect perceptual identification trials. Time-frequency analysis of single trials conducted over MEG current localized to PMC/Broca's using a hierarchical variational Bayesian source analysis technique revealed significantly greater event-related synchronization ERS and desynchronization ERD for correct over incorrect trials in the alpha, beta, and gamma frequency range prior to and after stimulus presentation. Together, these fMRI and MEG results are consistent with the hypothesis that articulatory processes serve to facilitate perceptual performance, while further dispelling concerns that activity found in ventral PMC/Broca's (mirror system) is merely a product of covert production of the perceived action. The finding of performance predictive activity prior to stimulus onset as well as activity related to task difficulty instead of information available in stimulation are consistent with constructivist and contrary to direct realist theories of perception.

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