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Neuroimage. 2008 Apr 15;40(3):1243-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.12.065. Epub 2008 Jan 17.

Non-primary motor areas in the human frontal lobe are connected directly to hand muscles.

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Clinical Neurophysiology, NBS Laboratory, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.


Structural studies in primates have shown that, in addition to the primary motor cortex (M1), premotor areas are a source of corticospinal tracts. The function of these putative corticospinal neuronal tracts in humans is still unclear. We found frontal non-primary motor areas (NPMAs), which react to targeted non-invasive magnetic pulses and activate peripheral muscles as fast as or even faster than those in M1. Hand muscle movements were observed in all our subjects about 20 ms after transcranial stimulation of the superior frontal gyrus (Brodmann areas 6 and 8). Stimulation of NPMA could activate both proximal and distal upper limb muscles with the same delay as a stimulation of the M1, indicating converging motor representations with direct functional connections to the hand. We suggest that these non-primary cortical motor representations provide additional capacity for the fast execution of movements. Such a capacity may play a role in motor learning and in recovery from motor deficits.

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