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Published March 1, 2021 | Supplemental Material + Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Neural encoding of actual and imagined touch within human posterior parietal cortex


In the human posterior parietal cortex (PPC), single units encode high-dimensional information with partially mixed representations that enable small populations of neurons to encode many variables relevant to movement planning, execution, cognition, and perception. Here, we test whether a PPC neuronal population previously demonstrated to encode visual and motor information is similarly engaged in the somatosensory domain. We recorded neurons within the PPC of a human clinical trial participant during actual touch presentation and during a tactile imagery task. Neurons encoded actual touch at short latency with bilateral receptive fields, organized by body part, and covered all tested regions. The tactile imagery task evoked body part-specific responses that shared a neural substrate with actual touch. Our results are the first neuron-level evidence of touch encoding in human PPC and its cognitive engagement during a tactile imagery task, which may reflect semantic processing, attention, sensory anticipation, or imagined touch.

Additional Information

© 2021 Chivukula et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited. Received: 31 July 2020; Accepted: 08 February 2021; Published: 01 March 2021. The authors thank subject NS for participating in the studies, Viktor Shcherbatyuk for technical assistance, and Kelsie Pejsa for administrative and regulatory assistance. This work was supported by the National Institute of Health (R01EY015545), the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Brain-machine Interface Center at Caltech, the Conte Center for Social Decision Making at Caltech (P50MH094258), and the Boswell Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication. Ethics: Clinical trial registration NCT01958086. Human subjects: All procedures were approved by the California Institute of Technology (IRB #18-0401), University of California, Los Angeles (IRB #13-000576-AM-00027), and Casa Colina Hospital and Centers for Healthcare (IRB #00002372) Institutional Review Boards. Informed consent was obtained after the nature of the study and possible risks were explained. Author contributions: Srinivas Chivukula, Data curation, Software, Formal analysis, Validation, Investigation, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing; Carey Y Zhang, Data curation, Software, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Writing - review and editing; Tyson Aflalo, Conceptualization, Resources, Data curation, Software, Formal analysis, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Validation, Investigation, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Project administration, Writing - review and editing; Matiar Jafari, Resources, Data curation, Validation, Writing - review and editing; Kelsie Pejsa, Resources, Data curation, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Methodology; Nader Pouratian, Resources, Data curation, Funding acquisition, Methodology, Writing - review and editing; Richard A Andersen, Resources, Supervision, Funding acquisition, Validation, Project administration, Writing - review and editing. Data availability: Data and analysis for key figures will be made available on github: https://github.com/tysonnsa/eLifePPCTouch copy archived at https://archive.softwareheritage.org/swh:1:rev:aead504c828568a46cf9555598211f1800f2187d/.

Attached Files

Published - elife-61646-v1.pdf

Submitted - 2020.07.27.223636v1.full.pdf

Supplemental Material - elife-61646-transrepform-v1.docx


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Additional details

August 20, 2023
December 22, 2023