Modulatory effects of the supplementary motor area on primary motor cortex outputs

J Neurophysiol. 2020 Jan 1;123(1):407-419. doi: 10.1152/jn.00391.2019. Epub 2019 Nov 27.


Premotor areas of primates are specialized cortical regions that can contribute to hand movements by modulating the outputs of the primary motor cortex (M1). The goal of the present work was to study how the supplementary motor area (SMA) located within the same hemisphere [i.e., ipsilateral SMA (iSMA)] or the opposite hemisphere [i.e., contralateral (cSMA)] modulate the outputs of M1. We used paired-pulse protocols with intracortical stimulations in sedated capuchin monkeys. A conditioning stimulus in iSMA or cSMA was delivered simultaneously or before a test stimulus in M1 with different interstimulus intervals (ISIs) while electromyographic activity was recorded in hand and forearm muscles. The pattern of modulation from iSMA and cSMA shared some clear similarities. In particular, both areas predominantly induced facilitatory effects on M1 outputs with shorter ISIs and inhibitory effects with longer ISIs. However, the incidence and strength of facilitatory effects were greater for iSMA than cSMA. We then compared the pattern of modulatory effects from SMA to the ones from the dorsal and ventral premotor cortexes (PMd and PMv) collected in the same series of experiments. Among premotor areas, the impact of SMA on M1 outputs was always weaker than the one of either PMd or PMv, and this was regardless of the hemisphere, or the ISI, tested. These results show that SMA exerts a unique set of modulations on M1 outputs, which could support its specific function for the production of hand movements.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We unequivocally isolated stimulation to either the ipsilateral or contralateral supplementary motor area (SMA) using invasive techniques and compared their modulatory effects on the outputs of primary motor cortex (M1). Modulations from both SMAs shared many similarities. However, facilitatory effects evoked from ipsilateral SMA were more common and more powerful. This pattern differs from the ones of other premotor areas, which suggests that each premotor area makes unique contributions to the production of motor outputs.

Keywords: cortical network; hand movement; interhemispheric interaction; neuromodulation; premotor cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cebus
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Hand / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*