Measuring the effects of attention to individual fingertips in somatosensory cortex using ultra-high field (7T) fMRI

8:41 am 9 Jan 2018

Published: 1 November 2017

Acknowledgements: We thank Aiman Al-Najjar, Nicole Atcheson, and Steffen Bollmann for help with data collection, and the authors acknowledge the facilities of the National Imaging Facility (NIF) at the Centre for Advanced Imaging, University of Queensland. This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (APP 1088419). M.B. acknowledges funding from Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant FT140100865, and S.B. acknowledges support through the Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

Authors: Alexander M.Pucketta, Saskia Bollmann, Markus Barth, Ross Cunnington

Abstract: Attention to sensory information has been shown to modulate the neuronal processing of that information. For example, visuospatial attention acts by modulating responses at retinotopically appropriate regions of visual cortex (Puckett and DeYoe, 2015; Tootell et al. 1998). Much less, however, is known about the neuronal processing associated with attending to other modalities of sensory information. One reason for this is that visual cortex is relatively large, and therefore easier to access non-invasively in humans using tools such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). With high-resolution fMRI, however, it is now possible to access smaller cortical areas such as primary somatosensory cortex (Martuzzi et al., 2014; Sanchez-Panchuelo et al., 2010; Schweisfurth et al. 2014; Schweizer et al. 2008). Here, we combined a novel experimental design and high-resolution fMRI at ultra-high field (7T) to measure the effects of attention to tactile stimulation in primary somatosensory cortex, S1. We find that attention modulates somatotopically appropriate regions of S1, and importantly, that this modulation can be measured at the level of the cortical representation of individual fingertips.

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