Cooperation of different neuronal systems during hand sign recognition
Hand signs with symbolic meaning can often be utilized more successfully than words to communicate an intention; however, the underlying brain mechanisms are undefined. The present study using magnetoencephalography (MEG) demonstrates that the primary visual, mirror neuron, social recognition and object recognition systems are involved in hand sign recognition. MEG detected well-orchestrated multiple brain regional electrical activity among these neuronal systems. During the assessment of the meaning of hand signs, the inferior parietal, superior temporal sulcus (STS) and inferior occipitotemporal regions were simultaneously activated. These three regions showed similar time courses in their electrical activity, suggesting that they work together during hand sign recognition by integrating information in the ventral and dorsal pathways through the STS. The results also demonstrated marked right hemispheric predominance, suggesting that hand expression is processed in a manner similar to that in which social signs, such as facial expressions, are processed.