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Posterior parietal cortex contains a command apparatus for hand movements

Rathelot, JA;Dum, RP;Strick, PL;

Mountcastle and colleagues proposed that the posterior parietal cortex contains a command apparatus for the operation of the hand in immediate extrapersonal space [Mountcastle et al. (1975) J Neurophysiol 38(4):871-908]. Here we provide three lines of converging evidence that a lateral region within area 5 has corticospinal neurons that are directly linked to the control of hand movements. First, electrical stimulation in a lateral region of area 5 evokes finger and wrist movements. Second, corticospinal neurons in the same region of area 5 terminate at spinal locations that contain last-order interneurons that innervate hand motoneurons. Third, this lateral region of area 5 contains many neurons that make disynaptic connections with hand motoneurons. The disynaptic input to motoneurons from this portion of area 5 is as direct and prominent as that from any of the premotor areas in the frontal lobe. Thus, our results establish that a region within area 5 contains a motor area with corticospinal neurons that could function as a command apparatus for operation of the hand.