Human posterior parietal cortex mediates hand-specific planning

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The processes underlying action planning are fundamental to adaptive behavior and can be influenced by recent motor experience. Here, we used a novel fMRI Repetition Suppression (RS) design to test the hypotheses that action planning unfolds more efficiently for successive actions made with the same hand. More efficient processing was predicted to correspond with both faster response times (RTs) to initiate actions and reduced fMRI activity levels — RS. Consistent with these predictions, we detected faster RTs for actions made with the same hand and accompanying fMRI-RS within bilateral posterior parietal cortex and right-lateralized parietal operculum. Within posterior parietal cortex, these RS effects were localized to intraparietal and superior parietal cortices. These same areas were more strongly activated for actions involving the contralateral hand. The findings provide compelling new evidence for the specification of action plans in hand-specific terms, and indicate that these processes are sensitive to recent motor history. Consistent with computational efficiency accounts of motor history effects, the findings are interpreted as evidence for comparatively more efficient processing underlying action planning when successive actions involve the same versus opposite hand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-238
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2015

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