How somatotopic is the motor cortex hand area?

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Science  23 Jul 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5120, pp. 489-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.8332915


The primary motor cortex (M1) is thought to control movements of different body parts from somatotopically organized cortical territories. Electrical stimulation suggests, however, that territories controlling different fingers overlap. Such overlap might be artifactual or else might indicate that activation of M1 to produce a finger movement occurs over a more widespread cortical area than usually assumed. These possibilities were distinguished in monkeys moving different fingers. Recordings showed that single M1 neurons were active with movements of different fingers. Neuronal populations active with movements of different fingers overlapped extensively. Control of any finger movement thus appears to utilize a population of neurons distributed throughout the M1 hand area rather than a somatotopically segregated population.

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