• functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • movement;
  • primary motor cortex;
  • somatotopic;
  • supplementary motor area


Movements of the fingers, hand and arm involve overlapping neural representations in primary motor cortex (M1). Monkey M1 exhibits a core–surround organisation in which cortical representation of the hand and fingers is surrounded by representations of the wrist, elbow and shoulder. A potentially homologous organisation in human M1 has only been observed in a single study, a functional MRI (fMRI) study by [J.D. Meier, T.N. Aflalo, S. Kastner & M.S. Graziano.(2008) J Neurophysiol, 100(4), 1800–1812]. The results of their study suggested a double representation of the wrist in human M1, an unprecedented finding. Our purpose was to document and simultaneously provide evidence that would extend the presence of double representation of the wrist to that of the elbow. Using fMRI, we observed somatotopic maps in M1 and the supplementary motor area (SMA), the only other cortical area that showed robust within-limb somatotopy during self-timed finger, wrist and elbow movements. We observed double wrist and elbow representation that bracketed finger fMRI responses in M1 and the SMA. Our results show that the cortical locations of these double representations are well predicted by local cortical anatomy. Double representation of the wrist and elbow is important because it violates the traditional somatotopic progression in M1 but it is consistent with the representation of synergistic movements involving adjacent effectors.