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Neural substrates of tactile imagery: a functional MRI study.

15 Aug

Researchers from the Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women''s Hospital/ Harvard Medical School, used MRI technology to see which neural pathways were involved when subjects imagined tactile stimulation on the dorsal side of their right hand. Results were then compared to the MRI findings from subjects who actually received tactile stimulation of the same area of the hand.

During the imagery condition, contralateral primary and secondary somatosensory areas were activated along with activation in the left parietal lobe. Activations in left inferior frontal gyri (Brodmann''s area 44), left dorsolateral prefrontal area, left precentral gyrus, left insula, and medial frontal gyrus were also observed. In the basal ganglia, activation in the left thalamus (ventral posteromedial nucleus) and putamen was found.

These results suggest that the primary and secondary somatosensory areas are recruited during tactile imagery, and have partially overlapping neural substrates for the perception of tactile stimulation.

Citation: Yoo SS, Freeman DK, McCarthy JJ 3rd, Jolesz FA. Neural substrates of tactile imagery: a functional MRI study. Neuroreport 2003 Mar 24;14(4): pp.581-5.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award