A well-known issue in functional neuroimaging studies, regarding motor synchronization, is to design suitable control tasks able to discriminate between the brain structures involved in primary time-keeper functions and those related to other processes such as attentional effort. The aim of this work was to investigate how the predictability of stimulus onsets in the baseline condition modulates the activity in brain structures related to processes involved in time-keeper functions during the performance of a visually cued motor synchronization task (VM). The rational behind this choice derives from the notion that using different stimulus predictability can vary the subject's attention and the consequently neural activity. For this purpose, baseline levels of BOLD activity were obtained from 12 subjects during a conventional-baseline condition: maintained fixation of the visual rhythmic stimuli presented in the VM task, and a random-baseline condition: maintained fixation of visual stimuli occurring randomly. fMRI analysis demonstrated that while brain areas with a documented role in basic time processing are detected independent of the baseline condition (right cerebellum, bilateral putamen, left thalamus, left superior temporal gyrus, left sensorimotor cortex, left dorsal premotor cortex and supplementary motor area), the ventral premotor cortex, caudate nucleus, insula and inferior frontal gyrus exhibited a baseline-dependent activation. We conclude that maintained fixation of unpredictable visual stimuli can be employed in order to reduce or eliminate neural activity related to attentional components present in the synchronization task.
- Baseline condition
- Time-keeper functions
- Visual rhythmic finger-tapping task
ASJC Scopus subject areas