Friday, 16 March 2007 15:05

DRCMR in Nature Neuroscience

A collaboration between DRCMR, the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences and the Department of Neurobiology and Pharmacology (University of Copenhagen) has proven fruitful. Whilst investigating the neural mechanisms underlying movement perception, a group of researchers (Mark Schram Christensen, Jesper Lundbye-Jensen, Svend Sparre Geertsen, Tue Hvass Petersen, Olaf B. Paulson and Jens Bo Nielsen) made an interesting discovery. We already know that whenever we move, signals from our muscles, tendons and joints provide information about the movement to our brains. However, when this information flow is blocked, activation of the somatosensory cortex is preserved and actually shows an increased interaction with the premotor cortex. This suggests that the brain compensates for the absence by self-inducing the activation which it expects to be present in the somatosensory cortex when the body moves. The work has been published in Nature Neuroscience.

The abstract of the paper:
Movement perception relies on sensory feedback, but the involvement of efference copies remains unclear. We investigated movements without proprioceptive feedback using ischemic nerve block during fMRI in healthy humans, and found preserved activation of the primary somatosensory cortex. This activation was associated with increased interaction with premotor cortex during voluntary movements, which demonstrates that perception of movements relies in part on predictions of sensory consequences of voluntary movements that are mediated by the premotor cortex.