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The perception of touch and the ventral somatosensory pathway

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Preusser,  Sven
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Thiel,  Sabrina D.
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Psychology, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;

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Roggenhofer,  Elisabeth
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Laboratoire de Recherche en Neuroimagerie (LREN), Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland;

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Kosatschek,  Anna
Methods and Development Unit Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, 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;
Center for Stroke Research, Charité University Medicine 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;

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Citation

Preusser, S., Thiel, S. D., Rook, C., Roggenhofer, E., Kosatschek, A., Draganski, B., et al. (2015). The perception of touch and the ventral somatosensory pathway. Brain, 138(3), 540-548. doi:10.1093/brain/awu370.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-3385-D
Abstract
In humans, touching the skin is known to activate, among others, the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex on the postcentral gyrus together with the bilateral parietal operculum (i.e. the anatomical site of the secondary somatosensory cortex). But which brain regions beyond the postcentral gyrus specifically contribute to the perception of touch remains speculative. In this study we collected structural magnetic resonance imaging scans and neurological examination reports of patients with brain injuries or stroke in the left or right hemisphere, but not in the postcentral gyrus as the entry site of cortical somatosensory processing. Using voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping, we compared patients with impaired touch perception (i.e. hypoaesthesia) to patients without such touch impairments. Patients with hypoaesthesia as compared to control patients differed in one single brain cluster comprising the contralateral parietal operculum together with the anterior and posterior insular cortex, the putamen, as well as subcortical white matter connections reaching ventrally towards prefrontal structures. This finding confirms previous speculations on the ‘ventral pathway of somatosensory perception’ and causally links these brain structures to the perception of touch.