An fMRI study on modality specific brain activation patterns
Objects of different categories, as viewed by humans, are represented in anatomically different brain regions that encode visual or action-related object features: objects from natural categories (e.g. animals) are predominantly represented through their visual features (e.g. their outlines) and thus strongly activate the visual association cortex (occipital-temporal regions). Objects from artificial categories (e.g. tools), however, are mostly represented through functional features (e.g. actions) and thus activate the motor regions (fronto-central regions) of the brain.
The aim of this project is to investigate the acquisition of modality-specific knowledge, and the brain regions involved therein, using artificial objects. For this investigation, “nobjects” with artificial names were developed. Each “nobject” has two features (outline and action). The “nobjects” have been classified either into visual categories, for which the outline was the distinctive feature, or into action categories, for which the action feature was distinctive. In 16 sessions (1.5 hours each), subjects will familiarise themselves with the “nobjects” and will then participate in an fMRI study with a visual and an action-related decision task. It is expected that objects from the action categories lead to a higher activation of the premotor and parietal cortex, while objects from the visual categories elicit a stronger activation of the occipital and temporal cortex.