Forearm and Hand Muscles Exhibit High Coactivation and Overlapping of Cortical Motor Representations

Gabriela P. Tardelli, Victor H. Souza*, Renan H. Matsuda, Marco A.C. Garcia, Pavel A. Novikov, Maria A. Nazarova, Oswaldo Baffa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
86 Downloads (Pure)


Most of the motor mapping procedures using navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation (nTMS) follow the conventional somatotopic organization of the primary motor cortex (M1) by assessing the representation of a particular target muscle, disregarding the possible coactivation of synergistic muscles. In turn, multiple reports describe a functional organization of the M1 with an overlapping among motor representations acting together to execute movements. In this context, the overlap degree among cortical representations of synergistic hand and forearm muscles remains an open question. This study aimed to evaluate the muscle coactivation and representation overlapping common to the grasping movement and its dependence on the stimulation parameters. The nTMS motor maps were obtained from one carpal muscle and two intrinsic hand muscles during rest. We quantified the overlapping motor maps in size (area and volume overlap degree) and topography (similarity and centroid Euclidean distance) parameters. We demonstrated that these muscle representations are highly overlapped and similar in shape. The overlap degrees involving the forearm muscle were significantly higher than only among the intrinsic hand muscles. Moreover, the stimulation intensity had a stronger effect on the size compared to the topography parameters. Our study contributes to a more detailed cortical motor representation towards a synergistic, functional arrangement of M1. Understanding the muscle group coactivation may provide more accurate motor maps when delineating the eloquent brain tissue during pre-surgical planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-336
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Topography
Issue number3
Early online date9 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Motor evoked potential
  • Motor mapping
  • Neuronavigation
  • Synergy
  • TMS
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation


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