Activation of Prefrontal Cortex in Process of Oral and Finger Shape Discrimination: fNIRS Study

Noriyuki Narita, Kazunobu Kamiya, Sunao Iwaki, Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroshi Endo, Michiharu Shimosaka, Takeshi Uchida, Ikuo Kantake, Koh Shibutani

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The differences in the brain activities of the insular and the visual association cortices have been reported between oral and manual stereognosis. However, these results were not conclusive because of the inherent differences in the task performance-related motor sequence conditions. We hypothesized that the involvement of the prefrontal cortex may be different between finger and oral shape discrimination. This study was conducted to clarify temporal changes in prefrontal activities occurring in the processes of oral and finger tactual shape discrimination using prefrontal functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Methods: Six healthy right-handed males [aged 30.8 ± 8.2 years (mean ± SD)] were enrolled. Measurements of prefrontal activities were performed using a 22-channel fNIRS device (ETG-100, Hitachi Medical Co., Chiba, Japan) during experimental blocks that included resting state (REST), nonsense shape discrimination (SHAM), and shape discrimination (SHAPE). Results: No significant difference was presented with regard to the number of correct answers during trials between oral and finger SHAPE discrimination. Additionally, a statistical difference for the prefrontal fNIRS activity between oral and finger shape discrimination was noted in CH 1. Finger SHAPE, as compared with SHAM, presented a temporally shifting onset and burst in the prefrontal activities from the frontopolar area (FPA) to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). In contrast, oral SHAPE as compared with SHAM was shown to be temporally overlapped in the onset and burst of the prefrontal activities in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC)/FPA/OFC. Conclusion: The prefrontal activities temporally shifting from the FPA to the OFC during SHAPE as compared with SHAM may suggest the segregated serial prefrontal processing from the manipulation of a target image to the decision making during the process of finger shape discrimination. In contrast, the temporally overlapped prefrontal activities of the DLPFC/FPA/OFC in the oral SHAPE block may suggest the parallel procession of the repetitive involvement of generation, manipulation, and decision making in order to form a reliable representation of target objects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number588593
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2021


  • finger
  • oral
  • parallel activity
  • prefrontal cortex
  • serial activity
  • shape discrimination


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