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Premotor activations in response to visually presented single letters depend on the hand used to write: a study on left-handers

By Marieke Longcamp, Jean-luc Anton, Muriel Roth and Jean-luc Velay


In a previous fMRI study on right-handers (Rhrs), we reported that part of the left ventral premotor cortex (BA6) was activated when alphabetical characters were passively observed and that the same region was also involved in handwriting [Longcamp, M., Anton, J. L., Roth, M., & Velay, J. L. (2003). Visual presentation of single letters activates a premotor area involved in writing. NeuroImage, 19, 1492–1500]. We therefore suggested that letter-viewing may induce automatic involvement of handwriting movements. In the present study, in order to confirm this hypothesis, we carried out a similar fMRI experiment on a group of left-handed subjects (Lhrs). We reasoned that if the above assumption was correct, visual perception of letters by Lhrs might automatically activate cortical motor areas coding for left-handed writing movements, i.e., areas located in the right hemisphere. The visual stimuli used here were either single letters, single pseudoletters, or a control stimulus. The subjects were asked to watch these stimuli attentively, and no response was required. The results showed that a ventral premotor cortical area (BA6) in the right hemisphere was specifically activated when Lhrs looked at letters and not at pseudoletters. This right area was symmetrically located with respect to the left one activated under the same circumstances in Rhrs. This finding supports the hypothesis that visual perception of written language evokes covert motor processes. In addition, a bilateral area, also located in the premotor cortex (BA6), but more ventrally and medially, was found to be activated in response to both letters and pseudoletters. This premotor region, which was no

Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.01.020
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