Reactivation of motor brain areas during explicit memory for actions

Neuroimage. 2001 Aug;14(2):521-8. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0801.


Recent functional brain imaging studies have shown that sensory-specific brain regions that are activated during perception/encoding of sensory-specific information are reactivated during memory retrieval of the same information. Here we used PET to examine whether verbal retrieval of action phrases is associated with reactivation of motor brain regions if the actions were overtly or covertly performed during encoding. Compared to a verbal condition, encoding by means of overt as well as covert activity was associated with differential activity in regions in contralateral somatosensory and motor cortex. Several of these regions were reactivated during retrieval. Common to both the overt and covert conditions was reactivation of regions in left ventral motor cortex and left inferior parietal cortex. A direct comparison of the overt and covert activity conditions showed that activation and reactivation of left dorsal parietal cortex and right cerebellum was specific to the overt condition. These results support the reactivation hypothesis by showing that verbal-explicit memory of actions involves areas that are engaged during overt and covert motor activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*