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Neurology. 1993 Nov;43(11):2311-8.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of complex human movements.

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Department of Neurology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) is a new, noninvasive imaging tool thought to measure changes related to regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). Previous FMRI studies have demonstrated functional changes within the primary cerebral cortex in response to simple activation tasks, but it is unknown whether FMRI can also detect changes within the nonprimary cortex in response to complex mental activities. We therefore scanned six right-handed healthy subjects while they performed self-paced simple and complex finger movements with the right and left hands. Some subjects also performed the tasks at a fixed rate (2 Hz) or imagined performing the complex task. Functional changes occurred (1) in the contralateral primary motor cortex during simple, self-paced movements; (2) in the contralateral (and occasionally ipsilateral) primary motor cortex, the supplementary motor area (SMA), the premotor cortex of both hemispheres, and the contralateral somatosensory cortex during complex, self-paced movements; (3) with less intensity during paced movements, presumably due to the slower movement rates associated with the paced (relative to self-paced) condition; and (4) in the SMA and, to a lesser degree, the premotor cortex during imagined complex movements. These preliminary results are consistent with hierarchical models of voluntary motor control.

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