Human premotor areas parse sequences into their spatial and temporal features

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  • Katja Kornysheva
    University College London
  • Jörn Diedrichsen
    University College London

Skilled performance is characterized by precise and flexible control of movement sequences in space and time. Recent theories suggest that integrated spatio-temporal trajectories are generated by intrinsic dynamics of motor and premotor networks. This contrasts with behavioural advantages that emerge when a trained spatial or temporal feature of sequences is transferred to a new spatio-temporal combination arguing for independent neural representations of these sequence features. We used a new fMRI pattern classification approach to identify brain regions with independent vs integrated representations. A distinct regional dissociation within motor areas was revealed: whereas only the contralateral primary motor cortex exhibited unique patterns for each spatio-temporal sequence combination, bilateral premotor areas represented spatial and temporal features independently of each other. These findings advocate a unique function of higher motor areas for flexible recombination and efficient encoding of complex motor behaviours.


  • Adult, Brain Mapping, Female, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Motor Cortex, Movement, Prefrontal Cortex, Psychomotor Performance, Space Perception, Time Perception, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e03043
Publication statusPublished - 12 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes
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