The purpose of this study was to show a gradient of possible bilateral activation for movements of the non-dominant vs. dominant hand, as well as for areas involved in complex vs. simple hand movements. A standard 1.5 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system has been utilized to localize the cortical motor hand areas, using the blood oxygen level dependent contrast (BOLDc) technique and single-section fast low-angle shot (FLASH) imaging. Ten normal right-handed subjects volunteered for the study. The motor tasks consisted of simple (flexion-extension) finger movements of either hand, and complex movements (finger-to-thumb opposition in a repeating, pre-planned sequence) of the non-dominant hand. Simple movements caused contralateral activation of the primary motor area (MA); ipsilateral activation was observed for the non-dominant hand only. Supplementary motor area (SMA) was also activated, with a clear contralateral prevalence. The ratio of bilateral activation of MA did not change with complex movements of the non-dominant hand, while SMA as well as lateral premotor area were largely bilaterally activated in this task. In conclusion, the ipsilateral MA is activated for movements--even simple--performed with the non-dominant hand. There is widespread functional activity, involving both contralateral and ipsilateral SMA, for complex movements.
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