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J Neurosci. 1992 Aug;12(8):2918-47.

Neurophysiological correlates of hand preference in primary motor cortex of adult squirrel monkeys.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77030.


Variability in the functional topography of area 4 was examined in adult squirrel monkeys. Conventional intracortical microstimulation techniques were used to derive detailed maps (250 microns interpenetration distances) of distal forelimb movement representations in both hemispheres of six monkeys. Spatial features of these representational maps were then compared to the hand preferred by the individual animals during a motor task requiring skilled digit use. Beyond a few broad generalizations common to all area 4 motor maps, the local mosaic-like topography of individual distal forelimb representations was highly idiosyncratic. Using statistical procedures to determine the independent contributions of individual, side, and movement category to the total variation in motor maps, the results demonstrate statistically significant variation in representational topography among individuals as well as between hemispheres of the same individuals. In the dominant hemisphere (i.e., the hemisphere opposite the preferred hand), the distal forelimb representations generally were greater in number and larger in total area, and displayed a longer total boundary length and a greater index of spatial complexity. Because of the direct relationship between interhemispheric asymmetry and behavioral asymmetry, these studies suggest that a large source of variability found in the topography of motor maps in this and other studies derives from differences in the way particular movements and/or movement combinations are performed by individual animals.

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