Cognitive aspects of human motor activity: Contribution of right hemisphere and cerebellum.
Background. Concepts of movement and action are not completely synonymous, but what distinguishes one from the other? Movement may be defined as stimulus- driven motor acts, while action implies realization of a specific motor goal, essential for cognitively driven behavior. Although recent clinical and neuroimaging studies have revealed some areas of the brain that mediate cognitive aspects of human motor behavior, the identification of the basic neural circuit underlying the interaction between cognitive and motor functions remains a challenge for neurophysiology and psychology.
Objective. In the current study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate elementary cognitive aspects of human motor behavior.
Design. Twenty healthy right-handed volunteers were asked to perform stimulus-driven and goal-directed movements by clenching the right hand into a fist (7 times). The cognitive component lay in anticipation of simple stimuli signals. In order to disentangle the purely motor component of stimulus-driven movements, we used the event-related (ER) paradigm. FMRI was performed on a 3 Tesla Siemens Magnetom Verio MR-scanner with 32-channel head coil.
Results. We have shown differences in the localization of brain activity depending on the involvement of cognitive functions. These differences testify to the role of the cerebellum and the right hemisphere in motor cognition. In particular, our results suggest that right associative cortical areas, together with the right posterolateral cerebellum (Crus I and lobule VI) and basal ganglia, de ne cognitive control of motor activity, promoting a shift from a stimulus-driven to a goal-directed mode.
Conclusion. These results, along with recent data from research on cerebro-cerebellar circuitry, redefine the scope of tasks for exploring the contribution of the cerebellum to diverse aspects of human motor behavior and cognition.
Themes: Cognitive psychology
Keywords: action, movement, fMRI, lateralization, motor behavior, voluntary movement, cognition, cortex, cerebellum, basal ganglia