INTRODUCTION: The approach of an external stimulus to the peripersonal space (PPS) modifies some physiological measures, including the cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the supplementary motor area and premotor cortex. CBF measurement may be useful to assess brain activations when producing specific motor responses, likely mediated by cortical and subcortical neural circuits.
METHODS: This study investigated PPS in 15 healthy humans by characterizing the hemodynamic responses (pulsatility index, PI; and heart rate, HR) related to different directions of movements of individual's hand toward and backward his/her own face, so to perturb PPS).
RESULTS: We observed that the CBF and HR were enhanced more when the stimulated hand was inside the PPS of the face in the passive and active condition than when the hand was outside the PPS and during motor imagery task.
CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the modulation of PPS-related brain responses depends on specific sensory-motor integration processes related to the location and the final position of a target in the PPS. We may thus propose TCD as a rapid and easy approach to get information concerning brain responses related to stimuli approaching the PPS. Understanding the modulations of brain activations during tasks targeting PPS can help to understand the results of psychophysical and behavioral trials and to plan patient-tailored cognitive rehabilitative training.