Representation of movements and muscles within the primate precentral motor cortex: historical and current perspectives

Fed Proc. 1986 Nov;45(12):2687-99.


A major problem with the study of the control of movement and posture is to determine how specific brain areas contribute to the selection of those particular muscle patterns that underlie a coordinated movement. With this problem in mind, a selective review is presented of mapping studies of the primate motor cortex, whose results bear on the question of how the spatial organization of cortical efferent cells might contribute to the production of organized muscle synergies. More recent findings are also summarized, which appear to resolve previous controversies on the question of whether movements or muscles are the primary units of motor cortex organization. These same findings suggest also a form of spatial organization within the primate precentral gyrus that would allow spatially simple afferent inputs to evoke the muscle synergies that are necessary for a variety of simple movements of the arm and hand.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement*
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Neurophysiology / history
  • Primates