Kinesthetic working memory and action control within the dorsal stream

Katja Fiehler, Michael Burke, Annerose Engel, Siegfried Bien, Frank Rösler
Cerebral Cortex 2008, 18 (2): 243-53
There is wide agreement that the "dorsal (action) stream" processes visual information for movement control. However, movements depend not only on vision but also on tactile and kinesthetic information (=haptics). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the present study investigates to what extent networks within the dorsal stream are also utilized for kinesthetic action control and whether they are also involved in kinesthetic working memory. Fourteen blindfolded participants performed a delayed-recognition task in which right-handed movements had to be encoded, maintained, and later recognized without any visual feedback. Encoding of hand movements activated somatosensory areas, superior parietal lobe (dorsodorsal stream), anterior intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) and adjoining areas (ventrodorsal stream), premotor cortex, and occipitotemporal cortex (ventral stream). Short-term maintenance of kinesthetic information elicited load-dependent activity in the aIPS and adjacent anterior portion of the superior parietal lobe (ventrodorsal stream) of the left hemisphere. We propose that the action representation system of the dorsodorsal and ventrodorsal stream is utilized not only for visual but also for kinesthetic action control. Moreover, the present findings demonstrate that networks within the ventrodorsal stream, in particular the left aIPS and closely adjacent areas, are also engaged in working memory maintenance of kinesthetic information.

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