Neural encoding of actual and imagined touch within human posterior parietal cortex

Srinivas Chivukula, Carey Y. Zhang, Tyson Aflalo, Matiar Jafari, Kelsie Pejsa, Nader Pouratian, Richard A. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In the human posterior parietal cortex (PPC), single units encode high-dimensional information with partially mixed representations that enable small populations of neurons to encode many variables relevant to movement planning, execution, cognition, and perception. Here, we test whether a PPC neuronal population previously demonstrated to encode visual and motor information is similarly engaged in the somatosensory domain. We recorded neurons within the PPC of a human clinical trial participant during actual touch presentation and during a tactile imagery task. Neurons encoded actual touch at short latency with bilateral receptive fields, organized by body part, and covered all tested regions. The tactile imagery task evoked body part-specific responses that shared a neural substrate with actual touch. Our results are the first neuron-level evidence of touch encoding in human PPC and its cognitive engagement during a tactile imagery task, which may reflect semantic processing, attention, sensory anticipation, or imagined touch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61646
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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