The topographical organization of motor processing: An ALE meta-analysis on six action domains and the relevance of Broca's region

Neuroimage. 2020 Feb 1:206:116321. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.116321. Epub 2019 Oct 31.


Action is a cover term used to refer to a large set of motor processes differing in domain specificities (e.g. execution or observation). Here we review neuroimaging evidence on action processing (N = 416; Subjects = 5912) using quantitative Activation Likelihood Estimation (ALE) and Meta-Analytic Connectivity Modeling (MACM) approaches to delineate the functional specificities of six domains: (1) Action Execution, (2) Action Imitation, (3) Motor Imagery, (4) Action Observation, (5) Motor Learning, (6) Motor Preparation. Our results show distinct functional patterns for the different domains with convergence in posterior BA44 (pBA44) for execution, imitation and imagery processing. The functional connectivity network seeding in the motor-based localized cluster of pBA44 differs from the connectivity network seeding in the (language-related) anterior BA44. The two networks implement distinct cognitive functions. We propose that the motor-related network encompassing pBA44 is recruited when processing movements requiring a mental representation of the action itself.

Keywords: Action domains; Activation likelihood estimation; Broca’s area; Meta-analysis; Meta-analytic connectivity modeling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Broca Area / diagnostic imaging*
  • Broca Area / physiology
  • Connectome
  • Functional Neuroimaging
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Imitative Behavior*
  • Learning*
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Movement*
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Observation*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography