The human tongue is so sensitive and dexterous that spatial representations of the inside of the oral cavity for the tongue movement are naturally expected to exist. In the present study, we examined the brain activity associated with spatial processing during tongue movements using a functional magnetic resonance imaging technique. Twenty-four normal subjects participated in the study, which consisted of a periodic series of three blocks; resting of the tongue, tongue movement (pressing the inside of a tooth with the tip of the tongue), and tongue retraction. The cerebral fields of activation during the tongue movement to the left and right side relative to those during rest were found in the primary sensorimotor area and supplementary motor area bilaterally, and in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL). The activation areas during the tongue retraction relative to those during rest were almost the same, except that activation in the left IPL was not observed. The fields of activation during tongue movement to the left and right side relative to those during tongue retraction were found bilaterally in the dorsal premotor area, superior parietal lobule (SPL), and the IPL. The results indicate that the bilateral SPL and IPL were specifically involved in the processing for human tongue movement. Although no significant laterality was observed, the left parietal area tended to show greater activation in statistical values and area than the right parietal area, thus indicating the possibility that this processing for human tongue movement is related to that for language.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging
- Spatial processing
- Tongue movement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience