The primary motor and premotor areas of the human cerebral cortex

Neuroscientist. 2006 Apr;12(2):143-52. doi: 10.1177/1073858405284255.


Brodmann's cytoarchitectonic map of the human cortex designates area 4 as cortex in the anterior bank of the precentral sulcus and area 6 as cortex encompassing the precentral gyrus and the posterior portion of the superior frontal gyrus on both the lateral and medial surfaces of the brain. More than 70 years ago, Fulton proposed a functional distinction between these two areas, coining the terms primary motor area for cortex in Brodmann area 4 and premotor area for cortex in Brodmann area 6. The parcellation of the cortical motor system has subsequently become more complex. Several nonprimary motor areas have been identified in the brain of the macaque monkey, and associations between anatomy and function in the human brain are being tested continuously using brain mapping techniques. In the present review, the authors discuss the unique properties of the primary motor area (M1), the dorsal portion of the premotor cortex (PMd), and the ventral portion of the premotor cortex (PMv). They end this review by discussing how the premotor areas influence M1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cues
  • Hand / innervation
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / anatomy & histology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology