Based on information from various senses, the brain regions performs such general sensations
‘Role of the prefrontal cortex in sensory perception has been uncovered with the help of massage stones. This may open a new avenue to study how the brain manages to process and represent complex real-world attributes through multiple senses, even without directly experiencing them.
The team utilized a combination of photographs, sounds, and even heated massage stones to discover the possible functions. In one set, the participants were shown a series of images – including beaches, city streets, forests, and train stations.
They were then asked to judge if the scenes were warm or cold and noisy or quiet. The brain activity of the participants was captured throughout using the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology.
Later the participants were first handed a series of massage stones that were either heated to 45℃ or cooled to 9℃. This was followed by exposing them to both quiet and noisy sounds- such as birds, people, and waves at a beach.
Integrative Brain Region
“Whether an individual was directly exposed to warmth, for example, or simply looking at a picture of a sunny scene, we saw the same pattern of neural activity in the prefrontal cortex. The results suggest that the prefrontal cortex generalizes perceptual experiences that originate from different senses. Understanding the basics of these capabilities provides the foundation for the research of disorders of perception,” says Dirk Bernhardt-Walther, professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the U of T, and co-author of the study.
The study thereby suggested that the patterns of activity in the prefrontal cortex both from the actual stone experiment and from the experiment with pictures revealed consistent neural activity patterns.
“Our results might help people with limitations in one sensory modality to compensate with another and reach the same or very similar conceptual representations in their prefrontal cortex, which is essential for making decisions about their environment,” says Bernhardt-Walther.