Functions and structures of the motor cortices in humans

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1996 Dec;6(6):773-81. doi: 10.1016/s0959-4388(96)80027-4.


Humans and non-human primates have several motor areas. Exactly how many is a matter of current debate. A proper parcellation of motor areas must be based on correlated structural and functional differences. Recent studies indicate that the primary motor cortex may be, in reality, two areas (4a and 4p). Similarly, there are undoubtedly two or more cingulate motor areas and perhaps two supplementary motor areas. The homologies between human and monkey brains are striking in some cases, making monkey models of human motor cortices attractive. The doctrine of a strict 'homuncular' somatotopical organization of motor areas will have to be abandoned. The engagement of motor areas in different types of voluntary seems merely a matter of degree of activation rather than exclusive specific contributions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

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