Motor areas of the medial wall: a review of their location and functional activation

Cereb Cortex. 1996 May-Jun;6(3):342-53. doi: 10.1093/cercor/6.3.342.


Our goal in this review is to provide an anatomical framework for the analysis of the motor functions of the medial wall of the hemisphere in humans and laboratory primates. Converging evidence indicates that this region of the frontal lobe contains multiple areas involved in motor control. In the monkey, the medial wall contains four premotor areas that project directly to both the primary motor cortex and the spinal cord. These are the supplementary motor area (SMA) on the superior frontal gyrus and three motor areas buried within the cingulate sulcus. In addition, there is evidence that a fifth motor field, the pre-SMA, lies rostral to the SMA proper. Recent physiological observations provide evidence for functional differences among these motor fields. In the human, no consensus exists on the number of distinct motor fields on the medial wall. In this review, we summarize the results of positron emission tomography (PET) studies that examined functional activation on the medial wall of humans. Our analysis suggests that it is possible to identify at least four separate cortical areas on the medial wall. Each area appears to be relatively more involved in some aspects of motor behavior than others. These cortical areas in the human appear to be analogous to the pre-SMA, the SMA proper, and two of the cingulate motor areas of the monkey. We believe that these correspondences and the anatomical framework we describe will be important for unraveling the motor functions of the medial wall of the hemisphere.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gyrus Cinguli / anatomy & histology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Haplorhini
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*