Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to explore the role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in skilled and sequential haptic performance. Monkeys were trained to perform a delayed matching-to-sample task that required thememorization of three-dimensional objects perceived either by palpation (haptically) or by sight. At the start of a trial the animal was allowed to touch or view an object, the sample; after a period of delay, during which the object remained out of touch and out of sight, the animal was presented with two side-by-side objects—- one of them the sample—-for either tactile or visual recognition, and the choice of the sample (correct match) was rewarded. Three variants of the task were used: (1) visual sample, haptic match; (2) haptic sample, visual match; and (3) haptic sample, haptic match. The temporary bilateral cooling of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to 15°C induced a reversible deficit in performance of all three tasks. Cooling to the same degree a portion of posterior parietal cortex of equivalent size did not significantly alter either performance or reaction time. These findings indicate that the functional integrity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is important for performance of sequential behavior dependent on haptic skill. Further, the results suggest that the role of this cortex in active memory, already well documented for spatially and nonspatially defined visual information, extends also to tactile information and associated motor acts.

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