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J Neurophysiol. 2000 Sep;84(3):1667-72.

Activation of the dorsal premotor cortex and pre-supplementary motor area of humans during an auditory conditional motor task.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, Hirosaki University School of Medicine, Hirosaki, Japan.


Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we measured regional blood flow to examine which motor areas of the human cerebral cortex are preferentially involved in an auditory conditional motor behavior. As a conditional motor task, randomly selected 330 or 660 Hz tones were presented to the subjects every 1. 0 s. The low and high tones indicated that the subjects should initiate three successive opposition movements by tapping together the right thumb and index finger or the right thumb and little finger, respectively. As a control task, the same subjects were asked to alternate the two opposition movements, in response to randomly selected tones that were presented at the same frequencies. Between the two tasks, MRI images were also scanned in the resting state while the tones were presented in the same way. Comparing the images during each of the two tasks with images during the resting state, it was observed that several frontal motor areas, including the primary motor cortex, dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), supplementary motor area (SMA), and pre-SMA, were activated. However, preferential activation during the conditional motor task was observed only in the PMd and pre-SMA of the subjects' left (contralateral) frontal cortex. The PMd has been thought to play an important role in transforming conditional as well as spatial visual cues into corresponding motor responses, but our results suggest that the PMd along with the pre-SMA are the sites where more general and extensive sensorimotor integration takes place.

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