Representational content of occipitotemporal and parietal tool areas


Bracci S, Cavina-Pratesi C, Connolly JD & Ietswaart M (2016) Representational content of occipitotemporal and parietal tool areas. Neuropsychologia, 84, pp. 81-88.

It is now established that the perception of tools engages a left-lateralized network of frontoparietal and occipitotemporal cortical regions. Nevertheless, the precise computational role played by these areas is not yet well understood. To address this question, we used functional MRI to investigate the distribution of responses to pictures of tools and hands relative to other object categories in the so-called “tool” areas. Although hands and tools are visually not alike and belong to different object categories, these are both functionally linked when considering the common role of hands and tools in object manipulation. This distinction can provide insight into the differential functional role of areas within the “tool” network. Results demonstrated that images of hands and tools activate a common network of brain areas in the left intraparietal sulcus (IPS), left lateral occipitotemporal cortex (LOTC) and ventral occipitotemporal cortex (VOTC). Importantly, multivoxel pattern analysis revealed that the distribution of hand and tool response patterns in these regions differs. These observations provide support for the idea that the left IPS, left LOTC and VOTC might have distinct computational roles with regard to tool use. Specifically, these results suggest that while left IPS supports tool action-related computations and VOTC primarily encodes category specific aspects of objects, left LOTC bridges ventro occipitotemporal perception-related and parietal action-related representations by encoding both types of object information.

Tools; Action network; Occipitotemporal cortex; Parietal cortex; fMRI

Neuropsychologia: Volume 84

Publication date30/04/2016
Publication date online03/09/2015
Date accepted by journal01/09/2015