abstract Egbert Hartstra

Egbert Hartstra (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour)

How verbal instructions are transformed into motor actions

How verbal instructions are transformed into motor actions. Instructions play a vital role in everyday behavior; through them, we may guide our actions or even learn new behaviors. In experimental psychology this ability to learn new behavior via instructions is often exploited. In a typical experiment, participants are instructed with arbitrary stimulus-response (S-R) rules. Despite both the stimulus and response being completely unrelated to one another, participants are able to perform such a task with hardly any training. Until recently, this ability was often taken for granted, and did not receive much attention in experimental psychology literature. In this talk I will focus on neuroimaging studies that investigated how verbal instructions are transformed into motor actions. These studies reveal that this process relies on a frontal-parietal network including the inferior frontal cortex, anterior part of the intraparietal sulcus (aIPS) and premotor cortices. It is argued that the inferior frontal cortex uses general rule information to guide areas specifically needed for implementing and preparing the instructed responses (e.g., aIPS and premotor areas). Finally, these results are discussed in the light of results stemming from the visuo-motor conditional literature which investigates how S-R rules are learned via trial and error learning.