Human parietal and primary motor cortical interactions are selectively modulated during the transport and grip formation of goal-directed hand actions
Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) constitutes a critical cortical node in the sensorimotor system in which goal-directed actions are computed. This information then must be transferred into commands suitable for hand movements to the primary motor cortex (M1). Complexity arises because reach-to-grasp actions not only require directing the hand towards the object (transport component), but also preshaping the hand according to the features of the object (grip component). Yet, the functional influence that specific PPC regions exert over ipsilateral M1 during the planning of different hand movements remains unclear in humans. Here we manipulated transport and grip components of goal-directed hand movements and exploited paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) to probe the functional interactions between M1 and two different PPC regions, namely superior parieto-occipital cortex (SPOC) and the anterior region of the intraparietal sulcus (aIPS), in the left hemisphere. We show that when the extension of the arm is required to contact a target object, SPOC selectively facilitates motor evoked potentials, suggesting that SPOC-M1 interactions are functionally specific to arm transport. In contrast, a different pathway, linking the aIPS and ipsilateral M1, shows enhanced functional connections during the sensorimotor planning of grip. These results support recent human neuroimaging findings arguing for specialized human parietal regions for the planning of arm transport and hand grip during goal-directed actions. Importantly, they provide new insight into the causal influences these different parietal regions exert over ipsilateral motor cortex for specific types of planned hand movements.
Vesia M, Bolton DAE, Mochizuki G, Staines WR. Human parietal and primary motor cortical interactions are selectively modulated during the transport and grip formation of goal-directed hand actions. Neuropsychologia, 2013, 51(3), 410-417