Perceiving a simple touch may depend as much on memory, attention, and expectation as on the stimulus itself, according to new research from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar Ranulfo Romo and his colleague Victor de Lafuente. The scientists found that monkeys perceptions of touch match brain activity in the frontal lobe, an area that assimilates many types of neural information.
Romo and de Lafuente, both of the Institute of Cellular Physiology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, report their results in the December 2005 issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience, published early online on November 6, 2005.
One of neurosciences most difficult questions concerns how the brain converts simple sensory inputs to complete perceptual experiences. Many neuroscientists assume that perceptions arise in the sensory cortices, which are the first areas of the brain to process information coming in from sense organs, Romo said. Some recent research, however, has hinted that activity in other parts of the brain may also contribute to sensory perception.
Jennifer Donovan | EurekAlert!
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