Abstract

The functional anatomy of reaching and grasping simple objects was determined in nine healthy subjects with positron emission tomography imaging of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF). In a prehension (grasping) task, subjects reached and grasped illuminated cylindrical objects with their right hand. In a pointing task, subjects reached and pointed over the same targets. In a control condition subjects looked at the targets. Both movement tasks increased activity in a distributed set of cortical and subcortical sites: contralateral motor, premotor, ventral supplementary motor area (SMA), cingulate, superior parietal, and dorsal occipital cortex. Cortical areas including cuneate and dorsal occipital cortex were more extensively activated than ventral occipital or temporal pathways. The left parietal operculum (putative SII) was recruited during grasping but not pointing. Blood flow changes were individually localized with respect to local cortical anatomy using sulcal landmarks. Consistent anatomic landmarks from MRI scans could be identified to locate sensorimotor, ventral SMA, and SII blood flow increases. The time required to complete individual movements and the amount of movement made during imaging correlated positively with the magnitude of rCBF increases during grasping in the contralateral inferior sensorimotor, cingulate, and ipsilateral inferior temporal cortex, and bilateral anterior cerebellum. This functional-anatomic study defines a cortical system for “pragmatic” manipulation of simple neutral objects.