Multimodal output mapping of human central motor representation on different spatial scales


Corresponding author J. Classen: Zentrum für Nervenheilkunde, Neurologische Klinik und Poliklinik, Universität Rostock, Gehlsheimer Strasse 20, 18055 Rostock, Germany. Email:


  • 1Non-invasive mapping by focal transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is frequently used to investigate cortical motor function in the intact and injured human brain. We examined how TMS-derived maps relate to the underlying cortical anatomy and to cortical maps generated by functional imaging studies.
  • 2The centres of gravity (COGs) of TMS maps of the first dorsal intersosseus muscle (FDI) were integrated into 3-D magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data sets in eleven subjects. In seven of these subjects the TMS-derived COGs were compared with the COG of regional cerebral blood flow increases using positron emission tomography (PET) in an index finger flexion protocol.
  • 3Mean TMS-derived COG projections were located on the posterior lip of the precentral gyrus and TMS-derived COG projections were in close proximity to the mean PET-derived COG, suggesting that the two methods reflect activity of similar cortical elements.
  • 4Criteria for a reliable assessment of the COG and the number of positions with a minimum amplitude of two-thirds of the maximum motor-evoked potential (T3Ps) were determined as a function of the number of stimuli and extension of the stimulation field. COGs and T3Ps were compared with an estimate of the size of the human motor cortex targeting α-motoneurons of forearm muscles. This comparison suggests that TMS can retrieve spatial information on cortical organization below the macroanatomic scale of cortical regions.
  • 5Finally, we studied the cortical representation of hand muscles in relation to facial and foot muscle representations and investigated hemispherical asymmetries. We did not find any evidence for a different ipsi- or contralateral representation of the mentalis muscle. Also, no difference was found between FDI representations on the dominant versus the non-dominant hemisphere.