Motor cortex activation is related to force of squeezing.

Research paper by Steven C SC Cramer, Robert M RM Weisskoff, Judith D JD Schaechter, Gereon G Nelles, Mary M Foley, Seth P SP Finklestein, Bruce R BR Rosen

Indexed on: 12 Jul '02Published on: 12 Jul '02Published in: Human Brain Mapping


Primate studies have demonstrated that motor cortex neurons show increased activity with increased force of movement. In humans, this relationship has received little study during a power grip such as squeezing, and has previously only been evaluated across a narrow range of forces. Functional MRI was performed in eight healthy subjects who alternated between rest and right hand squeezing at one of three force levels. During scanning, motor performances were recorded using a dynamometer. At each force level, activation volume was measured within left sensorimotor cortex, right sensorimotor cortex, and a midline supplementary motor area. In left sensorimotor cortex, % signal change was also assessed. The range of force generated across the three force levels varied from 4.9 N to 276 N. In left sensorimotor cortex, activation volume increased significantly with greater force. The % signal change also increased with greater force and correlated closely with activation volume. In supplementary motor area, activation volume increased significantly with increasing force, but with greater intersubject variability. In right sensorimotor cortex, a trend for larger activation volumes with greater force did not reach significance. The laterality index, an expression of the relative degree of contralateral vs. ipsilateral sensorimotor cortex activation, did not change across the three force levels. Increased force of squeezing is associated with increased contralateral sensorimotor cortex and supplementary motor area activation. This relationship was found across the full spectrum of forces that the human hand is capable of generating. Use of a valid, reliable method for assessing motor behavior during functional MRI may be important to clinical applications.