Dissociating Arbitrary Stimulus-Response Mapping from Movement Planning during Preparatory Period: Evidence from Event-Related Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
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In the present study, we aimed to dissociate the neural correlates of two subprocesses involved in the preparatory period in the context of arbitrary, prelearned stimulus-response (S-R) associations, namely, S-R mapping and movement planning (MP). We teased apart these two subprocesses by comparing three tasks in which the complexity of both S-R mapping and MP were independently manipulated: simple reaction time (SRT) task, go/no-go reaction time (GNGRT) task, and choice reaction time (CRT) task. We found that a more complex S-R mapping, which is the common element differentiating CRT and GNGRT from SRT, was associated with higher brain activation in the left superior parietal lobe (SPL). Conversely, a greater number of planned finger movements, which is the common difference between CRT and both SRT and GNGRT, was associated with higher brain activation in a number of frontal areas, including the left supplementary motor area (SMA), left dorsal premotor cortex (dPM), and left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). The left-hemisphere dominance for S-R mapping could be related to the fact that arbitrary S-R mapping is often verbally mediated in humans. Overall, these results suggest a clear dissociation in the preparatory-set period between the more abstract role of left SPL in activating the appropriate S-R associations and the more concrete role played by the SMA, dPM, and ACC in preparing the required motor programs.
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