While bipedalism is a fundamental evolutionary adaptation thought to be essential for the development of the human brain, the erect body is always an inch or two away from falling. Although the neural mechanism for automatically detecting one's own body instability is an important consideration, there have thus far been few functional neuroimaging studies because of the restrictions placed on participants' movements. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the neural substrate underlying whole body instability, based on the self-recognition paradigm that uses video stimuli consisting of one's own and others' whole bodies depicted in stable and unstable states. Analyses revealed significant activity in the regions which would be activated during genuine unstable bodily states: The right parieto-insular vestibular cortex, inferior frontal junction, posterior insula and parabrachial nucleus. We argue that these right-lateralized cortical and brainstem regions mediate vestibular information processing for detection of vestibular anomalies, defensive motor responding in which the necessary motor responses are automatically prepared/simulated to protect one's own body, and sympathetic activity as a form of alarm response during whole body instability.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)