Functional magnetic resonance imaging of motor, sensory, and posterior parietal cortical areas during performance of sequential typing movements

A. M. Gordon, J. H. Lee, D. Flament, Kamil Ugurbil, Timothy J Ebner

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98 Scopus citations


We investigated the activation of sensory and motor areas involved in the production of typing movements using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Eleven experienced typists performed tasks, in which the spatial and temporal requirements as well as the number of digits involved were varied. These included a simple uni-digit repetitive task, a uni-digit sequential task, a dual-digit sequential task, a multi-digit sequential task, and typing text from memory. We found that the production of simple repetitive keypresses with the index finger primarily involved the activation of contralateral primary motor cortex (M1), although a small activation of the supplementary motor area (SMA) and other regions was sometimes observed as well. The sequencing of keypresses involved bilateral M1 and a stronger activation of the SMA and to a lesser extent the premotor area, cingulate gyrus, caudate, and lentiform nuclei. However, the activation of these areas did not exclusively depend on the complexity of the movements, since they were often activated during more simple movements, such as alternating two keypresses repeatedly. Somatosensory and parietal regions were also found to be activated during typing sequences. The activation of parietal areas did not exclusively depend on the spatial requirements of the task, since similar activation was observed during movements within intra-personal space (finger-thumb opposition) and may instead be related to the temporal requirements of the task. Our findings suggest that the assembly of well-learned, goal-directed finger movement sequences involves the SMA and other secondary motor areas as well as somatosensory and parietal areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-166
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by NIH grants RR08079, NS09509-01, NS31530 and the Human Frontier Science Program. The authors thank Drs. John Soechting and S-G. Kim for stimulating discussions, Dr. James Ashe for providing helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, and Dr. Peter Anderson and Michael McPhee for technical assistance.

Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Brain mapping
  • Finger movement sequences
  • Functional MRI
  • Motor cortex
  • Parietal cortex
  • Supplementary motor area


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