Motor Strip - Alternative Maps

Alternative Maps

At least two modifications to the classical somatotopic ordering of body parts have been reported in the primary motor cortex of primates.

First, the arm representation may be organized in a core and surround manner. In the monkey cortex, the digits of the hand are represented in a core area at the posterior edge of the primary motor cortex. This core area is surrounded on three sides (on the dorsal, anterior, and ventral sides) by a representation of the more proximal parts of the arm including the elbow and shoulder. In humans, the digit representation is surrounded dorsally, anteriorly, and ventrally, by a representation of the wrist.

A second modification of the classical somatotopic ordering of body parts is a double representation of the digits and wrist studied mainly in the human motor cortex. One representation lies in a posterior region called area 4p, and the other lies in an anterior region called area 4a. The posterior area can be activated by attention without any sensory feedback and has been suggested to be important for initiation of movements, while the anterior area is dependent on sensory feedback. It can also be activated by imaginary finger movements and listening to speech while making no actual movements. This anterior representation area has been suggested to be important in executing movements involving complex sensoriomotor interactions. It is possible that area 4a in humans corresponds to some parts of the caudal premotor cortex as described in the monkey cortex.

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