The Representation of Blinking Movement in Cingulate Motor Areas: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study

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Recent anatomical evidence from nonhuman primates indicates that cingulate motor areas (CMAs) play a substantial role in the cortical control of upper facial movement. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging in 10 healthy subjects, we examined brain activity associated with volitional eye closure involving primarily the bilateral orbicularis oculi. The findings were compared with those from bimanual tapping, which should identify medial frontal areas nonsomatotopically or somatotopically related to bilateral movements. In a group-level analysis, the blinking task was associated with rostral cingulate activity more strongly than the bimanual tapping task. By contrast, the bimanual task activated the caudal cingulate zone plus supplementary motor areas. An individual-level analysis indicated that 2 foci of blinking-specific activity were situated in the cingulate or paracingulate sulcus: one close to the genu of the corpus callosum (anterior part of rostral cingulate zone) and the posterior part of rostral cingulate zone. The present data support the notion that direct cortical innervation of the facial subnuclei from the CMAs might control upper face movement in humans, as previously implied in nonhuman primates. The CMAs may contribute to the sparing of upper facial muscles after a stroke involving the lateral precentral motor regions.

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