Massage stones help scientists uncover role of prefrontal cortex in sensory perception

January 5, 2022 by Sean Bettam - A&S News

An image of a beautiful beach conjures up certain sensations — one can imagine the warmth of the sun as it caresses the skin, and the sound of the water as waves break on the shore. But how is it that the human brain produces these impressions even when an individual isn’t actually standing on a beach, basking in the sun’s rays and listening to the sound of the waves?

Scientists at the University of Toronto exploring this mystery found that the brain’s prefrontal cortex — a region known primarily for its role in regulating behaviour, impulse inhibition, and cognitive flexibility — produces such general sensations based on information provided by various senses. The findings provide new insights into the poorly understood role of the prefrontal cortex in human perception.

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