The authors used functional magnetic resonance imaging to explore whether the primary motor area (M1) serves a processing role in a finger-movement tracking task, emphasizing attention to accuracy, beyond its execution role of simple movements, with no attention to accuracy. Twenty healthy subjects performed alternating conditions: Rest, involving no finger movement; Track, involving careful control of a cursor along a target pathway with finger extension/flexion movements; and Move, involving finger extension/flexion movements without careful control. The authors compared volume of activated voxels in the M1, blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) signal intensity of activated voxels in the M1, and BOLD signal intensity of all voxels in the M1 between the Track and Move conditions. The results showed greater volume and signal intensity in both the contralateral and ipsilateral M1 during Track than during Move. Overall, the results suggest that the M1 is engaged not only in the execution of movements but also in spatial and temporal processing to produce accurately controlled movements. These findings invite further work exploring whether precision-demanding movements, such as tracking, form a more potent stimulus for promoting helpful brain reorganization in the M1 during the recovery from stroke than simple repetitive movements.
- Primary motor area