The purpose of our study is to clarify, using functional MRI, brain regions activated during the fist-edge-palm task (FEP) compared to relatively simple hand motor tasks using either the right or the left hand in right-handed normal volunteers. The FEP was introduced to detect a disorder of voluntary movement, and it is believed to be closely related to contralateral frontal lobe damage. However, this assumption still remains controversial. Ten subjects participated in this study. Hand motor tasks were as follows: (1) the FEP, in which the subjects were requested to place their hand in three different positions sequentially: a fist resting horizontally, a palm resting vertically, and a palm resting horizontally; (2) a fist-palm task (FP), in which the subjects were asked to clench and unclench their fist alternately; and (3) a control task requiring the subjects to knock lightly with their clenched fist. The contralateral sensorimotor and premotor areas were activated in the FP with the right hand and the contralateral sensorimotor, premotor, and supplementary motor areas (SMA) were activated in the FP with the left hand. In the FEP with either hand, bilateral premotor and left parietal areas and ipsilateral cerebellum were also activated as well as contralateral sensorimotor area and SMA. Our results suggest that successful performance of the FEP requires the participation of more brain areas than FP, which may explain why some patients without frontal lobe damage failed to perform the FEP.
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