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Functional connectivity patterns of the motor cortical representational area of single muscles have not been extensively mapped in humans, particularly for the axial musculature. Functional connectivity may provide a neural substrate for adaptation of muscle activity in axial muscles that have both voluntary and postural functions. The purpose of this study was to combine brain stimulation and neuroimaging to both map the cortical representation of the external oblique (EO) in primary motor cortex (M1) and supplementary motor area (SMA), and to establish the resting-state functional connectivity associated with this representation. Motor evoked potentials were elicited from the EO muscle in stimulation locations encompassing M1 and SMA. The coordinates of locations with the largest motor evoked potentials were confirmed with task-based fMRI imaging during EO activation. The M1 and SMA components of the EO representation demonstrated significantly different resting-state functional connectivity with other brain regions: the SMA representation of the EO muscle was significantly more connected to the putamen and cerebellum, and the M1 representation of the EO muscle was significantly more connected to somatosensory cortex and the superior parietal lobule. This study confirms the representation of a human axial muscle in M1 and SMA, and demonstrates for the first time that different parts of the cortical representation of a human axial muscle have resting-state functional connectivity with distinct brain regions. Future studies can use the brain regions of interest we have identified here to test the association between resting-state functional connectivity and control of the axial muscles.


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Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017



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