Primary face motor area as the motor representation of articulation

J Neurol. 2007 Apr;254(4):442-7. doi: 10.1007/s00415-006-0385-7. Epub 2007 Mar 22.


No clinical data have yet been presented to show that a lesion localized to the primary motor area (M1) can cause severe transient impairment of articulation, although a motor representation for articulation has been suggested to exist within M1. Here we describe three cases of patients who developed severe dysarthria, temporarily mimicking speech arrest or aphemia, due to a localized brain lesion near the left face representation of the human primary motor cortex (face-M1). Speech was slow, effortful, lacking normal prosody, and more affected than expected from the degree of facial or tongue palsy. There was a mild deficit in tongue movements in the sagittal plane that impaired palatolingual contact and rapid tongue movements. The speech disturbance was limited to verbal output, without aphasia or orofacial apraxia. Overlay of magnetic resonance images revealed a localized cortical region near face-M1, which displayed high intensity on diffusion weighted images, while the main portion of the corticobulbar fibers arising from the lower third of the motor cortex was preserved. The cases suggest the existence of a localized brain region specialized for articulation near face-M1. Cortico-cortical fibers connecting face-M1 with the lower premotor areas including Broca's area may also be important for articulatory control.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Articulation Disorders / etiology*
  • Articulation Disorders / pathology
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / pathology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*