Role of the ipsilateral motor cortex in voluntary movement

Can J Neurol Sci. 1997 Nov;24(4):284-91. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100032947.


The ipsilateral primary motor cortex (M1) plays a role in voluntary movement. In our studies, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to study the effects of transient disruption of the ipsilateral M1 on the performance of finger sequences in right-handed normal subjects. Stimulation of the M1 ipsilateral to the movement induced timing errors in both simple and complex sequences performed with either hand, but with complex sequences, the effects were more pronounced with the left-sided stimulation. Recent studies in both animals and humans have confirmed the traditional view that ipsilateral projections from M1 to the upper limb are mainly directed to truncal and proximal muscles, with little evidence for direct connections to distal muscles. The ipsilateral motor pathway appears to be an important mechanism for functional recovery after focal brain injury during infancy, but its role in functional recovery for older children and adults has not yet been clearly demonstrated. There is increasing evidence from studies using different methodologies such as rTMS, functional imaging and movement-related cortical potentials, that M1 is involved in ipsilateral hand movements, with greater involvement in more complex tasks and the left hemisphere playing a greater role than the right.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*