The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Reciprocal interactions of the SMA and cingulate cortex sustain premovement activity for voluntary actions.

PMID 25471577


Voluntary action is one of the core functions of the human brain, and is accompanied by the well known readiness potential or Bereitschaftspotential. A network of cortical areas is responsible for the motor preparation process, including the anterior mid-cingulate cortex (aMCC) and the SMA. However, the relationship between activity in these regions during movement preparation and the readiness potential is poorly understood. We examined this relationship by integrating simultaneously acquired EEG and fMRI through computational modeling. We first observed that global field power of premovement neural activity showed a specific correlation with BOLD responses in the aMCC. We then used dynamic causal modeling to infer premovement interactions between these regions and their relationship to the premovement neural activity underlying the readiness potential. These analyses suggest that SMA and aMCC have strong reciprocal connections that act to sustain each other's activity, and that this interaction is mediated during movement preparation according to the readiness potential amplitude, as reflected in global cortical field power. Our study suggests that the reciprocal connections between SMA and aMCC are important to maintain the sustained activity of the readiness potential before movement and lead to a weak system instability at movement onset. We suggest that the effective connectivity of this network underlies its functional role in the preparation of self-generated actions.