Their chosen method of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed the areas of the brain that are activated when a person thinks, moves and performs actions.     

"Numerous studies are investigating the neural processes at play when we pick up a tool," said Professor Joachim Hermsdorfer from TUM's Chair of Human Movement Science.
"But many of these studies are restricted to test subjects observing an action, miming it, or simply visualizing it," Hermsdorfer said.
In the study, the subjects received ten everyday objects, including a hammer, a bottle-opener, a key, a lighter and a
scissors as well as some unfamiliar objects.

Their task was to either use the objects or simply lift them up and place them down again, first with the left and then with the right hand.
When they analyzed the data, the scientists looked at the planning phase and the actual execution phase separately.
In this way, they were able to identify the brain networks that were activated while the subjects planned and used a tool and those that controlled execution.
One important finding was that the left hemisphere was activated when the subjects planned to use a tool regardless of the hand they held it in.
In addition, the researchers recognized a distributed network responsible for both planning and execution. When working with unfamiliar objects, these regions of the brain were less activated.
The 'tool network' consists of brain regions of the parietal and frontal lobes as well as regions in the posterior temporal lobe and another area in the lateral occipital lobe.
Researchers found a neural activation pattern that covered all elements of a complex action. This includes recognizing the objects as tools, understanding how they are used, and the motor action to actually use the tool.
"The study also allowed us to confirm that there are different streams of perception in the brain for different tasks," said Hermsdorfer.
The dorsal stream of perception conducts signals to the posterior parietal lobe and is generally responsible for controlling actions.

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