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Dynamic causal modeling suggests serial processing of tactile vibratory stimuli in the human somatosensory cortex: An fMRI study

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Kalberlah,  Christian
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Pleger,  Burkhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Citation

Kalberlah, C., Villringer, A., & Pleger, B. (2013). Dynamic causal modeling suggests serial processing of tactile vibratory stimuli in the human somatosensory cortex: An fMRI study. NeuroImage, 74, 164-171. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.02.018.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-B1A9-3
Abstract
Sensitivity to location and frequency of tactile stimuli is a characterizing feature of human primary (S1), and secondary (S2) somatosensory cortices. Recent evidence suggests that S1 is predominantly receptive to stimulus location, while S2 is attuned to stimulus frequency. Although it is well established in humans that tactile frequency information is relayed serially from S1 to S2, a recent study, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in combination with dynamic causal modeling (DCM), suggested that somatosensory inputs are processed in parallel in S1 and S2. In the present fMRI/DCM study, we revisited this controversy and investigated the specialization of the human somatosensory cortical areas with regard to tactile stimulus representations, as well as their effective connectivity. During brain imaging, 14 participants performed a somatosensory discrimination task on vibrotactile stimuli. Importantly, the model space for DCM was chosen to allow for direct inference on the question of interest by systematically varying the information transmission from pure parallel to pure serial implementations. Bayesian model comparison on the level of model families strongly favors a serial, instead of a parallel processing route for tactile stimulus information along the somatosensory pathway. Our fMRI/DCM data thus support previous suggestions of a sequential information transmission from S1 to S2 in humans.