October 21, 2020

Neural representations of task context and temporal order during action sequence execution

Since routine action sequences can share a great deal of similarity in terms of their stimulus response mappings, their correct execution relies crucially on the ability to preserve contextual and temporal information (Lashley, 1951). However, there are few empirical studies on the neural mechanism and the brain areas maintaining such information. To address this gap in the literature, we recently recorded the blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response in a newly developed coffee-tea making task (Holroyd et al., 2018). The task involves the execution of 4 action sequences that each feature 6 decision states. Here we report a reanalysis of this dataset using a data-driven approach, namely multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA), that examines context-dependent neural activity across several predefined regions of interest. Results highlight involvement of the inferior-temporal gyrus and lateral prefrontal cortex in maintaining temporal and contextual information for the execution of hierarchically-organized action sequences. Furthermore, temporal information seems to be more strongly encoded in areas over the left hemisphere.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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