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Neuron. 2002 Dec 5;36(5):979-88.

I feel my hand moving: a new role of the primary motor cortex in somatic perception of limb movement.

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Division of Human Brain Research, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm S171 77, Sweden.


The primary motor cortex (MI) is regarded as the site for motor control. Occasional reports that MI neurons react to sensory stimuli have either been ignored or attributed to guidance of voluntary movements. Here, we show that MI activation is necessary for the somatic perception of movement of our limbs. We made use of an illusion: when the wrist tendon of one hand is vibrated, it is perceived as the hand moving. If the vibrated hand has skin contact with the other hand, it is perceived as both hands bending. Using fMRI and TMS, we show that the activation in MI controlling the nonvibrated hand is compulsory for the somatic perception of the hand movement. This novel function of MI contrasts with its traditional role as the executive locus of voluntary limb movement.

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