Representation of manipulable man-made objects in the dorsal stream

Neuroimage. 2000 Oct;12(4):478-84. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2000.0635.


We used fMRI to examine the neural response in frontal and parietal cortices associated with viewing and naming pictures of different categories of objects. Because tools are commonly associated with specific hand movements, we predicted that pictures of tools, but not other categories of objects, would elicit activity in regions of the brain that store information about motor-based properties. We found that viewing and naming pictures of tools selectively activated the left ventral premotor cortex (BA 6). Single-unit recording studies in monkeys have shown that neurons in the rostral part of the ventral premotor cortex (canonical F5 neurons) respond to the visual presentation of graspable objects, even in the absence of any subsequent motor activity. Thus, the left ventral premotor region that responded selectively to tools in the current study may be the human homolog of the monkey canonical F5 area. Viewing and naming tools also selectively activated the left posterior parietal cortex (BA 40). This response is similar to the firing of monkey anterior intraparietal neurons to the visual presentation of graspable objects. In humans and monkeys, there appears to be a close link between manipulable objects and information about the actions associated with their use. The selective activation of the left posterior parietal and left ventral premotor cortices by pictures of tools suggests that the ability to recognize and identify at least one category of objects (tools) may depend on activity in specific sites of the ventral and dorsal visual processing streams.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Names*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*