Brain and Behavior

Motor Behavior and Intentional Action

How does the brain mediate voluntary movements?

While sensory information moves more or less from the back to the front of the brain, motor information moves in the opposite direction. Goals for physical action are processed in the pre-frontal cortex, the seat of planning and goal setting. This information is sent back to the pre-motor cortex and the supplemental motor area, which lie just in front of the primary motor cortex. Coordination of the specific movements appears to take place in these areas.

This information is then transmitted to the primary motor cortex (or M1), which lies just in front of the central sulcus, next to the somatosensory strip of the parietal lobe. The surface of the body is mapped along M1, creating a similar homunculus to the one found next door in the somatosensory strip. This region is linked to the actual execution of the movement. M1 sends information to the brain stem, which then activates motor neurons in the spinal cord. These in turn connect directly to the muscles.


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