A probabilistic map of negative motor areas of the upper limb and face: a brain stimulation study

Brain. 2019 Apr 1;142(4):952-965. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz021.


Negative motor responses (NMRs) are defined as movement arrests induced by direct electrical stimulation of the brain. The NMRs manifest themselves after the disruption of a corticosubcortical network involved in motor control, referred to as the 'negative motor network'. At present, the spatial topography of the negative motor areas (NMAs) is poorly known. Hence, the objectives of the present study were to establish the first probabilistic map of the NMAs of the upper limbs and face, identify potential subareas, and investigate the NMAs' relationships with the primary motor cortex. A total of 117 patients with low grade glioma underwent awake surgery with direct electrostimulation. The Montreal Neurological Institute coordinates of sites eliciting NMRs (face and upper limbs) were registered. A probabilistic map was created, and subareas were identified in a cluster analysis. Each cluster was then plotted on the Glasser atlas and the 1200 Subjects Group Average Data from the Human Connectome Project, in order to study connectivity and compare the results with recent parcellation data. We elicited 386 NMRs (mean ± standard deviation current intensity: 2.26 ± 0.5 mA) distributed throughout the precentral gyrus in both hemispheres. In each hemisphere, we found two clusters for facial NMRs. For upper limb NMRs, we found two clusters in the right hemisphere; and three in the left. Each cluster overlapped with parcellations from the Glasser atlas. For the face, the NMAs were associated with areas 55b and 6v. For the upper limbs, the NMAs were linked to areas 6v, 6d, and 55b. Each NMA cluster showed a specific pattern of functionally connected areas, such as the inferior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor area, parietal areas, and posterior superior temporal gyrus. The white matter pathways projecting to these subareas involved the frontal aslant tract and the frontostriatal tract-both of which are well known to be associated with NMRs. This study constitutes the largest series to date of NMRs mapped to the lateral surface of both hemispheres. Rather than being randomly distributed, the NMAs appeared to be well structured and corresponded to parcellations identified by functional neuroimaging. Moreover, the white matter pathways known to drive NMRs are also connected to regions encompassing NMAs. Taken as a whole, our results suggest that NMAs belong to a large-scale modulatory motor network. Our new probabilistic map might constitute a valuable tool for use in further clinical and fundamental studies of motor control.

Keywords: awake surgery; electrical stimulation mapping; motor control; negative motor area; probabilistic map.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Female
  • Glioma / physiopathology
  • Glioma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Upper Extremity / physiopathology
  • Wakefulness / physiology
  • White Matter / physiopathology