Indexed on: 06 May '06Published on: 06 May '06Published in: Neuroscience
Traditionally the posterior parietal cortex was believed to be a sensory structure. More recently, however, its important role in sensory-motor integration has been recognized. One of its functions suggested in this context is the forming of intentions, i.e. high-level cognitive plans for movements. The selection and planning of a specific movement defines motor intention. In this study we used rapid event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging of healthy human subjects to investigate the involvement of posterior parietal cortex in motor intention in response to valid imperative cues. Subjects were provided with either neutral, motor or spatial cues. Neutral cues simply alerted, motor cues indicated which hand to use for response, and spatial cues indicated on which side the target would appear. Importantly, identical targets and responses followed these cues. Therefore any differential neural effects observed are independent from the actual movement performed. Differential blood oxygen level dependent signal changes for motor vs. neutral as well as motor vs. spatial cue trials were found in the left supramarginal gyrus, as hypothesized. The results demonstrate that neural activity in the left supramarginal gyrus underlies motor plans independent from the execution of the movement and thus extend previous neuropsychological and functional imaging data on the role of the left supramarginal gyrus in higher motor cognition.