The neural basis of hand choice: An fMRI investigation of the Posterior Parietal Interhemispheric Competition model.


School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


The current study investigates a new neurobiological model of human hand choice: The Posterior Parietal Interhemispheric Competition (PPIC) model. The model specifies that neural populations in bilateral posterior intraparietal and superior parietal cortex (pIP-SPC) encode actions in hand-specific terms, and compete for selection across and within hemispheres. Actions with both hands are encoded bilaterally, but the contralateral hand is overrepresented. We use a novel fMRI paradigm to test the PPIC model. Participants reach to visible targets while in the scanner, and conditions involving free choice of which hand to use (Choice) are compared with when hand-use is instructed. Consistent with the PPIC model, bilateral pIP-SPC is preferentially responsive for the Choice condition, and for actions made with the contralateral hand. In the right pIP-SPC, these effects include anterior intraparietal and superior parieto-occipital cortex. Left dorsal premotor cortex, and an area in the right lateral occipitotemporal cortex show the same response pattern, while the left inferior parietal lobule is preferentially responsive for the Choice condition and when using the ipsilateral hand. Behaviourally, hand choice is biased by target location - for targets near the left/right edges of the display, the hand in ipsilateral hemispace is favoured. Moreover, consistent with a competitive process, response times are prolonged for choices to more ambiguous targets, where hand choice is relatively unbiased, and fMRI responses in bilateral pIP-SPC parallel this pattern. Our data provide support for the PPIC model, and reveal a selective network of brain areas involved in free hand choice, including bilateral posterior parietal cortex, left-lateralized inferior parietal and dorsal premotor cortices, and the right lateral occipitotemporal cortex.


Action planning,Action selection,Dorsal premotor cortex,Hand selection,Posterior parietal cortex,Sensorimotor control,fMRI,