Movement- and task-related activations of motor cortical areas: A positron emission tomographic study



Using repeated measurements of regional cerebral blood flow with positron emission tomography, we investigated the regional cortical activations induced in 10 normal subjects, by two different finger motor tasks, i.e., a repeated flexion–extension of all fingers and a repeated flexion–extension of the middle finger. The all-finger movement only activated the primary sensorimotor cortex (SM) and the supplementary motor area (SMA) contralateral to the movement. However, the activation of the SMA was clearly task related during this motor task, because it was only observed when the movement was triggered by an auditory cue but not when it was self-paced. The middle finger movement was performed during self-paced conditions. It induced a much more complex pattern of activation than the all-finger movement, characterized by a high degree of SM and SMA activation contralateral to the side of the movement, as well as a slight ipsilateral activation of these areas. We suggest that this pattern of cortical activation may reflect the process of individuating finger movement or the early stages of motor learning of this unusual and technically difficult movement. Our data also confirm that the SM activation is closely linked to the intrinsic parameters of the movement; while the SMA may be activated by different aspects of the movement realization and preparation.