Anatomo-functional organization of the ventral primary motor and premotor cortex in the macaque monkey

Authors

  • Monica Maranesi,

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
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  • Francesca Rodà,

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
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  • Luca Bonini,

    1. Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Brain Center for Social and Motor Cognition, Parma, Italy
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  • Stefano Rozzi,

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
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  • Pier Francesco Ferrari,

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
    2. Dipartimento di Biologia Evolutiva e Funzionale, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy
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  • Leonardo Fogassi,

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
    2. Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Parma, Parma, Italy
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  • Gino Coudé

    1. Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Rete Multidisciplinare Tecnologica, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy
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Monica Maranesi, as above.
E-mail: monica.maranesi@nemo.unipr.it

Abstract

The ventral agranular frontal cortex of the macaque monkey is formed by a mosaic of anatomically distinct areas. Although each area has been explored by several neurophysiological studies, most of them focused on small sectors of single areas, thus leaving to be clarified which is the general anatomo-functional organization of this wide region. To fill this gap, we studied the ventral convexity of the frontal cortex in two macaque monkeys (Macaca nemestrina) using intracortical microstimulation and extracellular recording. Functional data were then matched with the cytoarchitectonic parcellation of the recorded region. The results demonstrated the existence of a dorso-ventral functional border, encompassing the anatomical boundary between areas F4 and F1, and a rostro-caudal anatomo-functional border between areas F5 and F4. The ventral subdivision of areas F4 and F1 was highly electrically excitable, represented simple mouth movements and lacked visual properties; in contrast, their dorsal counterpart showed a higher stimulation threshold, represented forelimb and mouth motor acts and hosted different types of visual properties. The data also showed that area F5 was scarcely excitable, and displayed various motor specificity (e.g. for the type of grip) and complex visual (i.e. mirror responses) properties. Overall, the posterior areas F4 and F1 appear to be involved in organizing and controlling goal-directed mouth motor acts and simple movements within different parts of the external (dorsal sector) and internal (ventral sector) space, whereas area F5 code motor acts at a more abstract level, thus enabling the emergence of higher order socio-cognitive functions.

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