Previous brain functional specialization evidence has shown that both aware and unaware visual processing of manipulable objects activate left premotor, parietal, and posterior temporal cortices, which are thought to constitute object-directed action and object-function processing streams. An open question is whether, both under supraliminal and subliminal processing conditions, there is directional spread of activation along these functional streams, leading to causal inter-regional connectivity effects. In this study, we used Dynamic Causal Modelling to estimate the effective connectivity influences within the premotor-parieto-temporal network, as a function of factorial contrasts for Manipulability (manipulable vs non-manipulable objects) and Perceptual Awareness (above vs below perceptual threshold). We modeled forward and backward connections originating from visual area V4, as a region underlying object texture segregation, and spreading through the left premotor-parieto-temporal network. Both above and below perceptual threshold, the visual processing of manipulable objects was associated with a specific increase of reciprocal effective connectivity coupling among left premotor-parieto-temporal regions. Aware and unaware manipulable object processing differed from each other for their distinct patterns of top-down activation enhancement exerted, in the former case, by left premotor-parieto-temporal regions on area V4 and, in the latter case, by left premotor on temporal regions. Although it is only under aware processing conditions that effective connectivity in the action representation system may promote object visual contour segregation in area V4, our results suggest that the encoding of object-action and object-function information can occur through left-hemispheric premotor, parietal, and temporal causal interdependencies, even when the object is not consciously perceived.
Effective connectivity within the neural system for object-directed action representation during aware and unaware tool processing / Ghio, M.; Conca, F.; Bellebaum, C.; Perani, D.; Tettamanti, M.. - In: CORTEX. - ISSN 0010-9452. - 153:(2022), pp. 55-65. [10.1016/j.cortex.2022.04.005]