Sequential organization of multiple movements: involvement of cortical motor areas

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2001;24:631-51. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.24.1.631.


Much of our normal behavior depends on the sequential execution of multiphased movements, or the execution of multiple movements arranged in a correct temporal order. This article deals with the issue of motor selection to arrange multiple movements in an appropriate temporal order, rather than the issue of constructing spatio-temporal structures in a single action. Planning, generating, and controlling the sequential motor behavior involves multiple cortical and subcortical neural structures. Studies on human subjects and nonhuman primates, however, have revealed that the medial motor areas in the frontal cortex and the basal ganglia play particularly important roles in the temporal sequencing of multiple movements. Cellular activity observed in the supplementary and presupplementary motor areas while performing specifically designed motor tasks suggests the way in which these areas take part in constructing the time structure for the sequential execution of multiple movements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*