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Keywords:

  • Supplementary motor area;
  • Sequential movement;
  • Human

Abstract

The role played by the supplementary motor area (SMA) in the higher-level organization of motor behaviour (motor programming) has been highlighted by the study of cerebral blood flow during voluntary movements in normal humans. We present a detailed physiological investigation from a patient with a right SMA lesion and show that the right SMA plays a role in programming simultaneous and sequential movements in both arms, though the contralateral arm was the more severely impaired. In addition, we obtained evidence to suggest that the precentral motor cortex may be more responsive to peripheral perturbations when the modulating influence of the SMA is absent. In view of the similarity of the physiological findings in this subject to those in patients with Parkinson's disease, we suggest that the defect of motor programming in Parkinson's disease is likely to reflect functional deafferentation of the SMA.