Research in both humans and monkeys has shown that even simple hand movements require cortical control beyond primary sensorimotor areas. An extensive functional neuroimaging literature demonstrates the key role that cortical fronto-parietal regions play for movements such as reaching and reach-to-grasp. However, no study so far has examined the specific white matter connections linking the fronto-parietal regions, namely the 3 parallel pathways of the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF). The aim of the current study was to explore how selective fronto-parietal connections are for different kinds of hand movement in 30 right-handed subjects by correlating diffusion imaging tractography and kinematic data. We showed that a common network, consisting of bilateral SLF II and SLF III, was involved in both reaching and reach-to-grasp movements. Larger SLF II and SLF III in the right hemisphere were associated with faster speed of visuomotor processing, while the left SLF II and SLF III played a role in the initial movement trajectory control. Furthermore, the right SLF II was involved in the closing grip phase necessary for efficient grasping of the object. We demonstrated for the first time that individual differences in asymmetry and structure of the fronto-parietal networks were associated with visuomotor processing in humans.
Keywords: diffusion imaging tractography; fronto-parietal networks; reach-to-grasp; reaching; superior longitudinal fasciculus.
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