Friday, November 25, 2016

Domain-general sequence processing in the brain

 2016 Nov 14. pii: S0149-7634(16)30347-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.10.033. [Epub ahead of print]

Supplementary Motor Area as key structure for domain-general sequence processing: A unified account.


The Supplementary Motor Area (SMA) is considered as an anatomically and functionally heterogeneous region and is implicated in several functions. We propose that SMA plays a crucial role in domain-general sequence processes, contributing to the integration of sequential elements into higher-order representations regardless of the nature of such elements (e.g., motor, temporal, spatial, numerical, linguistic, etc.). This review emphasizes the domain-general involvement of the SMA, as this region has been found to support sequence operations in a variety of cognitive domains that, albeit different, share an inherent sequence processing. These include action, time and spatial processing, numerical cognition, music and language processing, and working memory. In this light, we reviewed and synthesized recent neuroimaging, stimulation and electrophysiological studies in order to compare and reconcile the distinct sources of data by proposing a unifying account for the role of the SMA. We also discussed the differential contribution of the pre-SMA and SMA-proper in sequence operations, and possible neural mechanisms by which such operations are executed.


PET; SMA; domain-general; fMRI; language; music; neuroimaging; numerical cognition; pre-SMA; sequence processing; space; supplementary motor area; time; working memory

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From my book on music, Beethoven's Anvil pp. 123-124:
As far as I know, no one has observed just where in the brain you direct your toe to tap. But the need to deliberately learn it and consciously think about doing it—until it becomes automatic—suggests that it is somewhere in the neocortical motor cortex. The fact that foot tapping is used to time actions executed variously by the throat, tongue and lips, the arms and fingers, and the lungs suggests that the oscillation is in a cortical region that isn’t directly linked to the leg and foot , but can access any set of muscles. The oscillation is probably not in primary motor cortex, then, but in secondary motor cortex. There is, in fact, considerable evidence that repetitive movement is regulated by a secondary motor region called the supplementary motor area (SMA). The SMA is one of the cortical regions where Petersen and his colleagues found an increase in metabolism during skilled performance.

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