The role of the frontal aslant tract and premotor connections in visually guided hand movements

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Functional neuroimaging and brain lesion studies demonstrate that secondary motor areas of the frontal lobe play a crucial role in the cortical control of hand movements. However, no study so far has examined frontal white matter connections of the secondary motor network, namely the frontal aslant tract, connecting the supplementary motor complex and the posterior inferior frontal regions, and the U-shaped dorsal and ventral premotor fibers running through the middle frontal gyrus. The aim of the current study is to explore the involvement of the short frontal lobe connections in reaching and reach-to-grasp movements in 32 right-handed healthy subjects by correlating tractography data based on spherical deconvolution approach with kinematical data. We showed that individual differences in the microstructure of the bilateral frontal aslant tract, bilateral ventral and left dorsal premotor tracts were associated with kinematic features of hand actions. Furthermore, bilateral ventral premotor connections were also involved in the closing grip phase necessary for determining efficient and stable grasping of the target object. This work suggests for the first time that hand kinematics and visuomotor processing are associated with the anatomy of the short frontal lobe connections.

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