On somatotopic representation centers for finger movements in human primary motor cortex and supplementary motor area

Neuroimage. 2001 Jun;13(6 Pt 1):1027-34. doi: 10.1006/nimg.2001.0776.


We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the representation pattern for repetitive voluntary finger movements in the primary motor cortex (M1) and the supplementary motor area (SMA) of humans. Healthy right-handed participants performed repetitive individuated flexion-extension movements of digits 1, 2, and 3 using the dominant hand. Contralateral functional labeling for the group indicated a largely overlapping activation pattern in M1 and SMA for the three digits. Consistent with recent findings, the geographic activation center in M1 for each finger differed, and we found some evidence of a homunculus organization pattern in M1 and SMA, but only for the central location of the representations. However, the statistical power for the homunculus pattern was weak, and the distance separating the digit geographical centers was typically less than 15% of the entire extent of digit representations in M1 or SMA. While separations for digit representations occurred, the entire data set provided more support for the concept of distributed, overlapping representations than for a classic homunculus organization for voluntary finger movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Computer Graphics
  • Female
  • Fingers / innervation*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Reference Values