Flexibility In Motor Control

The ability to store motor memories enables the motor system to select a wide variety of movements in a highly flexible manner. People can select actions from a large repertoire of skills that have been previously learned, depending on context. In many contexts, achieving the goal of the motor system depends on movements made directly to targets, such as reaching to grasp an object. In others, more flexible relationships need to be established between objects and actions.

According to current thinking, different kinds of motor flexibility are afforded by different parts of the frontal cortex. Lateral nonprimary motor areas (such as dorsal PM) are thought to compute arbitrary mappings based on external (sensory) cues, whereas medial nonprimary motor areas (such as SMA) play an analogous role for internally generated actions, including memorized movement sequences. M1 is thought to enable a different sort of flexibility through the fractionation of motor synergies. Thus, it is commonly held that M1 functions mainly to permit motor "fractionation" (i.e., the independent control of muscle groups that usually work in concert). For example, the long muscles of the arm attach to several fingers to either flex or extend them. However, people can move their fingers one at a time.

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