We investigated the difference between brain activities in speeded and precisely timed responses to identical visual stimulus using fMRI. Stimulus used was a row of seven light-emitting diodes (LEDs) lightened up one after another with constant speed within a trial but with various speeds between trials. Subjects were asked to execute finger-thumb tapping with the right hand in response to the onset of the first LED light in the reaction time (RT) task and in anticipation of the onset of the last (i.e., seventh) LED light in the timing task. In control condition, they were asked to passively view the stimulus without motor response. Results showed that various movement-related areas including contralateral cingulate motor cortex were commonly activated for both tasks relative to the control condition, suggesting these structures are involved in general perception and response execution rather than specific function for speeded or precisely timed responses. In the RT task, the presupplementary motor area extending to the cingulate sulcus was activated more strongly than in the timing task probably to focus attention to the onset of the first LED light unpredictably presented after random foreperiods. The lateral occipital area extending to the temporo-parieto-occipital junction was activated more strongly in the timing task than in the RT task; the same area was deactivated in the RT task relative to the control condition. Auditory-related areas were also deactivated in the both tasks. This inter- and intramodal task-specific modification including deactivation underscores significance of the context for perception and action and can have an important role in dexterous or skilled performance.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.