Neuronal activity in cortical motor areas related to ipsilateral, contralateral, and bilateral digit movements of the monkey

J Neurophysiol. 1988 Jul;60(1):325-43. doi: 10.1152/jn.1988.60.1.325.


1. Single cell activity was studied in the precentral (PCM), premotor (PM), and supplementary (SMA) motor cortex of the monkey to compare magnitudes of activity changes in relation to ipsilateral, contralateral, and bilateral digit movements. 2. Three Japanese monkeys were trained to press a small key with the right or left hand, or with both hands, in accordance with visual instruction signals given 2.6-5.4 s before a visual movement-trigger signal. Great care was taken to train the animal to use only the required part of the limb. As a result of extensive training, electromyographic (EMG) studies revealed that muscle activities before the key press were limited to the digit and hand muscles of the limb instructed to move. No overt increase or decrease in activity was detectable in the proximal limb or body muscles in relation to the key-press movements or instructions. 3. Even though the movement was thus limited to distal forelimb, distinct ipsilateral relationships were observed in 8.2% of the task-related PCM neurons. They changed their activity before ipsilateral and bilateral (but not before contralateral) key press. 4. A majority of the neurons recorded from the digit area of PCM (mostly limited to the anterior bank of the central sulcus) exhibited a contralateral relationship; namely the activity increased or decreased before the onset of the contralateral and bilateral key-press movements. In most of them, the magnitudes of the activity changes before the contralateral and bilateral movements were similar. 5. In proximal limb and trunk areas of PCM and also in the somatosensory cortex, no neurons were found to exhibit distinct relations to any of the key-press movements. 6. In both SMA and PM, a number of neurons exhibited relationships of the type never or only rarely observed in the primary motor cortex. Thirty-seven percent of SMA and 62% of PM neurons exhibited premovement activity changes before all of the key-press movements. The movement-specific type of activity was observed in 28% of SMA and 16% of PM neurons. In these neurons, the activity changes were observed in relation to only one of the right or left key-press movements or exclusively in relation to the bilateral key press. Neuronal activity resembling the majority of the PCM neurons (contralateral type) was observed in 31% of SMA and 13% of PM neurons. 7. Instruction-induced changes in activity were more often found in the secondary than in the primary motor area.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Fingers / innervation
  • Fingers / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*