Comparison of neuronal activity in the rostral supplementary and cingulate motor areas during a task with cognitive and motor demands

Eur J Neurosci. 2002 Mar;15(5):887-904. doi: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.2002.01920.x.


A number of cortical motor areas have been identified on the medial wall of the hemisphere in monkeys. However, their specific role in motor control remains unclear. In this study, we sought to describe and compare the functional properties of the presupplementary (pre-SMA) and rostral cingulate (CMAr) motor areas in two monkeys performing a visually instructed, delayed, sequential movement. We recorded 134 task-related neurons in the pre-SMA and 149 in the CMAr. The main difference between the two areas was the abundance of responses to targets (46%) in the pre-SMA, while CMAr activity was more related to reward (28%). Neuronal responses to targets were more phasic and higher in frequency in the pre-SMA than in the CMAr. During the delay, the percentage of neuronal responses was similar in the two areas. The discharge pattern was different depending upon whether the delay duration was fixed or variable but in most neurons was the same regardless of the sequence performed. Movement-related changes were common in the pre-SMA (75%) and in the CMAr (81%) but they occurred earlier in the former. Neurons activated exclusively during movement were more numerous in the CMAr. Finally, neuronal activity in the pre-SMA was more related to the sequential aspect of the task compared to the CMAr. Our results suggest that although the two areas share functional properties, they also participate in different aspects of motor behaviour. Their functional properties reflect their anatomical positions, which give them the potential to integrate external stimuli (pre-SMA) and internal states (CMAr) during motor planning.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Forelimb / innervation
  • Forelimb / physiology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / cytology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Saccades / physiology