Consistent features in the forelimb representation of primary motor cortex in rhesus macaques

Michael C. Park, Abderraouf Belhaj-Saïf, Michael Gordon, Paul D. Cheney

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161 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to systematically map the forelimb area of primary motor cortex (M1) in rhesus macaques in an effort to investigate further the organization of motor output to distal and proximal muscles. We used stimulus-triggered averaging (StTAing) of electromyographic activity to map the cortical representation of 24 simultaneously recorded forelimb muscles. StTAs were obtained by applying 15 μA stimuli to M1 sites while the monkey performed a reach and prehension task. Motor output to body regions other than the forelimb (e.g., face, trunk, and hindlimb) was identified using repetitive intracortical microstimulation to evoke movements. Detailed, muscle-based maps of M1 revealed a central core of distal (wrist, digit, and intrinsic hand) muscle representation surrounded by a "horseshoe"-shaped zone of proximal (shoulder and elbow) muscle representation. The core distal and proximal zones were separated by a relatively large region representing combinations of both distal and proximal muscles. On the basis of its size and characteristics, we argue that this zone is not simply the result of stimulus-current spread, but rather a distinct zone within the forelimb representation containing cells that specify functional synergies of distal and proximal muscles. Electrode tracks extending medially from the medial arm of the proximal muscle representation evoked trunk and hindlimb responses. No distal or proximal muscle poststimulus effects were found in this region. These results argue against the existence of a second, major noncontiguous distal or proximal forelimb representation located medially within the macaque M1 representation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2784-2792
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2001


  • EMG
  • Forelimb
  • Macaque
  • Muscles
  • Poststimulus facilitation
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Stimulus-triggered averaging


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