Methods for Fine Scale Functional Imaging of Tactile Motion in Human and Nonhuman Primates

Robert M Friedman3, Barbara C Dillenburger1, 2, 3, Feng Wang1, 2, Malcum J Avison1, 2, 4, John C Gore1, 2, 5, Anna W Roe1, 2, 3, 5, Li Min Chen*, 1, 2, 3
1 Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences
2 Institute of Imaging Science
3 Department of Psychology
4 Department of Pharmacology
5 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, USA

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© Friedman et al; Licensee Bentham Open

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* Address correspondence to this author at the AA 1105 MCN, 1161 21st Ave. S. Nashville, TN, 37027, USA; Tel: 1 615 9367069; Fax: 1 615 3220734; E-mail:


In the visual and auditory systems specialized neural pathways use motion cues to track object motion and self-motion, and use differential motion cues for figure-ground segregation. To examine the neural circuits that encode motion in the somatosensory system, we have developed neuroimaging methods to study motion processing in human and nonhuman primates. We have implemented stimulus presentation paradigms to examine neural encoding of apparent motion percepts. These paradigms are designed to be compatible with fMRI, optical imaging, and electrophysiological methods, thereby permitting direct comparison of data derived across neurofunctional scales. An additional motivation for using a common tactile motion stimulation paradigm is to bridge two disparate bodies of work, that derived from neuroimaging studies in humans and another from neuroimaging, neurophysiological and neuroanatomical studies in monkeys. Here, we demonstrate that such an approach through the use of optical imaging and 9.4 Tesla fMRI experiments in monkeys, and 7 Tesla fMRI experiments in humans is effective in revealing neural regions activated by tactile motion stimuli. These methods span spatial scales capable of detecting 100 μm sized domains to those that would reveal global whole brain circuits. Armed with such capabilities, our long-term goals are to identify directionally selective areas and directionally se-lective functional domains and understand the global pathways within which they reside. Such knowledge would have great impact on our thinking regarding not only tactile motion processing, but also general strategies underlying somatosensory cortical processing.

Keywords: Apparent motion, monkey, finger, cortex, functional imaging, somatosensory.