Somatotopy and Attentional Modulation of the Human Parietal and Opercular Regions

  • Young J
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The somatotopical organization of the postcentral gyrus is well known, but less is known about the somatotopical organization of area 2, the somatosensory association areas in the postparietal cortex, and the parietal operculum. The extent to which these areas are modulated by attention is also poorly understood. For these reasons, we measured the BOLD signal when rectangular parallelepipeds of varying shape were presented to the immobile right hand or right foot of 10 subjects either discriminating these or just being stimulated. Activation areas in each subject were mapped against cytoarchitectural probability maps of area 2, IP1, and IP2 along the intraparietal sulcus and the parietal opercular areas OP1-OP4. In area 2, the somatotopical representation of the hand and foot were distinctly separate, whereas there was considerable overlap in IP1 and no clear evidence of separate representations in OP1, OP4, and IP2. The overlap of hand and foot representations increased in the following order: area 3a, 3b, 1, 2, IP1, OP4, IP2, and OP1. There were significant foot representations but no hand representations in right (ipsilateral) areas 3a, 3b, and 1. Shape discrimination using the foot as opposed to stimulation enhanced the signal in OP4 bilaterally, whereas discrimination with the hand enhanced the signal bilaterally in area 2, IP1, and IP2. These results indicate that somatosensory areas in humans are arranged from strong somatotopy into no somatotopy in the following order: 3a, 3b, 1, 2, IP1, OP4, IP2, and OP1. Higher order areas such as IP1, IP2, and OP4 showed task-related attentional enhancement.

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  • J. P. Young

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