Differential fronto-parietal activation depending on force used in a precision grip task: an fMRI study

J Neurophysiol. 2001 Jun;85(6):2613-23. doi: 10.1152/jn.2001.85.6.2613.


Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies suggest that the control of fingertip forces between the index finger and the thumb (precision grips) is dependent on bilateral frontal and parietal regions in addition to the primary motor cortex contralateral to the grasping hand. Here we use fMRI to examine the hypothesis that some of the areas of the brain associated with precision grips are more strongly engaged when subjects generate small grip forces than when they employ large grip forces. Subjects grasped a stationary object using a precision grip and employed a small force (3.8 N) that was representative of the forces that are typically used when manipulating small objects with precision grips in everyday situations or a large force (16.6 N) that represents a somewhat excessive force compared with normal everyday usage. Both force conditions involved the generation of time-variant static and dynamic grip forces under isometric conditions guided by auditory and tactile cues. The main finding was that we observed stronger activity in the bilateral cortex lining the inferior part of the precentral sulcus (area 44/ventral premotor cortex), the rostral cingulate motor area, and the right intraparietal cortex when subjects applied a small force in comparison to when they generated a larger force. This observation suggests that secondary sensorimotor related areas in the frontal and parietal lobes play an important role in the control of fine precision grip forces in the range typically used for the manipulation of small objects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Hand Strength / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology