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Neuron. 2001 Sep 27;31(6):889-901.

The cortical motor system.

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Istituto di Fisiologia Umana, Università di Parma, Via Volturno 39, I43100 Parma, Italy.


The cortical motor system of primates is formed by a mosaic of anatomically and functionally distinct areas. These areas are not only involved in motor functions, but also play a role in functions formerly attributed to higher order associative cortical areas. In the present review, we discuss three types of higher functions carried out by the motor cortical areas: sensory-motor transformations, action understanding, and decision processing regarding action execution. We submit that generating internal representations of actions is central to cortical motor function. External contingencies and motivational factors determine then whether these action representations are transformed into actual actions.

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