7T fMRI paper on action preparation accepted

Today, the 7T fMRI paper by our alumnus Tjerk Gutteling and several collaborators from the depts of Radiology, Neurology of the UMCU and from Utrecht University, was accepted in the Journal of Neuroscience. 

This work was performed at the UMCU when Tjerk was working in our lab on his PhD thesis, supervised by Bas Neggers. He is now working at the Sensorimotor lab at the Donders center, you can find his current website here.


The full reference to the paper that was just accepted:

Tjerk Gutteling, Natalia Petridou, Serge Dumoulin, Ben Harvey, Erik Aarnoutse, Leon Kenemans, and Sebastiaan Neggers (in press, J Neurosci). "Action preparation shapes processing in early visual cortex".

Tjerk used multi-voxel-pattern-analysis of 7T very high resolution fMRI data to decode movement intentions in the visual and parietal cortex, and was able to decode as early as the primary visual areas whether someone is intending to grasp or to point to a 3D object in the scanner. This was already quite an accomplishment itself, as the 7T environment is hostile to arm movements.

To this end, Tjerk deployed a novel cortical surface based patch-shaped moving searchlight algorithm allowing him to analyse how a pattern of fMRI activated voxels located on the cortical surface can descrimimate between future movement states. He was able to ensure that this was not due to distortions induced in the fMRI data by the arm movement, by tracking arm movements with a fiberoptics system and using a proper control condition.

This remarkable finding indicates that at the earlies possible level, our visual system takes into account what we plan to do with incoming visual information. Neuroanatomically, it is suggested that visuo-motor areas upstream from the visual cortex project back to the visual cortex, thus influencing early perception in order to optimally analyse visual information. This interpretation is supported by the current 7T data. This phenomenon is referred to as "action modulated perception", and was the main topic of Tjerk's research as published in his PhD thesis.

This paper is the final piece of evidence from a long line of papers supporting that perception is strongly shaped by action intentions, such as upcoming reach-to-grasp or eye movements. For the previous work leading up to this seminal concluding paper, see the related references below.

We will post a link to the paper at the the Journal of Neuroscience here as soon as it appears online.



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