A fronto-parietal circuit for tactile object discrimination: An event-related fMRI study

M. Cornelia Stoeckel, Bruno Weder, Ferdinand Binkofski, Giovanni Buccino, N. Jon Shah, Rüdiger J. Seitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies of somatosensory object discrimination have been focused on the primary and secondary sensorimotor cortices. However, we expected the prefrontal cortex to also become involved in sequential tactile discrimination on the basis of its role in working memory and stimulus discrimination as established in other domains. To investigate the contributions of the different cerebral structures to tactile discrimination of sequentially presented objects, we obtained event-related functional magnetic resonance images from seven healthy volunteers. Our results show that right hand object exploration involved left sensorimotor cortices, bilateral premotor, parietal and temporal cortex, putamen, thalamus, and cerebellum. Tactile exploration of parallelepipeds for subsequent object discrimination activated further areas in the dorsal and ventral portions of the premotor cortex, as well as parietal, midtemporal, and occipital areas of both cerebral hemispheres. Discriminating a parallelepiped from the preceding one involved a bilateral prefrontal-anterior cingulate-superior temporal-posterior parietal circuit. While the prefrontal cortex was active with right hemisphere dominance during discrimination, there was left hemispheric prefrontal activation during the delay period between object presentations. Delay related activity was further seen in the anterior intraparietal area and the fusiform gyrus. The results reveal a prominent role of the human prefrontal cortex for somatosensory object discrimination in correspondence with recent models on stimulus discrimination and working memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1114
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Event-related functional MRI
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Somatosensory
  • Tactile
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Neurology


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