Detailed somatotopy in primary motor and somatosensory cortex revealed by Gaussian population receptive fields

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The relevance of human primary motor cortex (M1) for motor actions has long been established. However, it is still unknown how motor actions are represented, and whether M1 contains an ordered somatotopy at the mesoscopic level. In the current study we show that a detailed within-limb somatotopy can be obtained in M1 during finger movements using Gaussian population Receptive Field (pRF) models. Similar organizations were also obtained for primary somatosensory cortex (S1), showing that individual finger representations are interconnected throughout sensorimotor cortex. The current study additionally estimates receptive field sizes of neuronal populations, showing differences between finger digit representations, between M1 and S1, and additionally between finger digit flexion and extension. Using the Gaussian pRF approach, the detailed somatotopic organization of M1 can be obtained including underlying characteristics, allowing for the in-depth investigation of cortical motor representation and sensorimotor integration.

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