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The angular gyrus is a supramodal comparator area in action–outcome monitoring


Predicting and processing the sensory consequences of one’s own actions is essential to enable successful interactions with the environment. Previous studies have suggested that the angular gyrus detects discrepancies between predicted and actual action consequences, at least for unimodal feedback. However, most actions lead to multisensory consequences, raising the question whether previous models can sufficiently explain action–outcome processing. Here, we investigated neural comparator processes during detection of delays between action and unimodal or bimodal consequences in human subjects with fMRI, using parametric and connectivity analyses. Participants had to perform button presses, which led to the presentation of either a dot on the screen, a tone, or both, presented with a variable delay after the button press. Participants were asked to judge whether there was a delay between action and feedback. Activity in the angular gyrus correlated positively with delay for both visual, auditory, and audio-visual action consequences. Furthermore, the angular gyrus was functionally connected with midline structures such as the posterior cingulate cortex and precuneus in all conditions. Our results show that the angular gyrus is (1) a supramodal area, sensitive to delays in multiple modalities, and (2) functionally connected with self-referential areas during delay detection of both unimodal and bimodal action consequences. Overall, our results suggest that the angular gyrus functions as a mediator between perception and interpretation, and that this process is remarkably similar for unimodal and bimodal action consequences.

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Data are available at doi:10.5281/zenodo.556085. This study was funded by the “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (DFG) through the SFB/Transregio 135, “Cardinal mechanisms of perception: prediction, valuation, categorization”, and through the International Research Training Group, IRTG 1901, “The Brain in Action-BrainAct”. BS is supported by DFG Grants STR 1146/8-1 and STR 1146/9-1. The authors declare no competing financial interests. We thank Jens Sommer and Kornelius Podranski for technical support, and Zeinab Helili for help with data collection.

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Correspondence to Bianca M. van Kemenade.

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van Kemenade, B.M., Arikan, B.E., Kircher, T. et al. The angular gyrus is a supramodal comparator area in action–outcome monitoring. Brain Struct Funct 222, 3691–3703 (2017).

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  • Voluntary action
  • Forward model
  • Delayed sensory feedback
  • fMRI