Distinct cortical networks support the planning and online control of reaching-to-grasp in humans

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A number of brain imaging studies have identified regions involved in the planning and control of complex actions. Here we attempt to contrast activity related to planning and online control in the human brain during simple reaching and grasping movements. In four conditions, participants did one of the following: passively observed a grasp target; planned a grasping movement without executing; planned and then executed a grasp; or immediately executed a grasp. Neural activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging and activity in the various conditions compared. Two large, independent networks of brain activity were identified: (i) a planning network including the premotor cortex, basal ganglia, anterior cingulate, posterior medial parietal area, superior parietal occipital cortex and middle intraparietal sulcus; and (ii) a control network including sensorimotor cortex, the cerebellum, the supramarginal gyrus and the superior parietal lobule. These findings provide evidence that the planning and control of even simple reaching and grasping actions use different brain regions, including different parts of the frontal and parietal lobes.

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