Motor action is prepared in the human brain for rapid initiation at the appropriate time. Recent non-invasive decoding techniques have shown that brain activity for action preparation represents various parameters of an upcoming action. In the present study, we demonstrated that a freely chosen effector can be predicted from brain activity measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before initiation of the action. Furthermore, the activity was related to response time (RT). We measured brain activity with fMRI while 12 participants performed a finger-tapping task using either the left or right hand, which was freely chosen by them. Using fMRI decoding, we identified brain regions in which activity during the preparatory period could predict the hand used for the upcoming action. We subsequently evaluated the relationship between brain activity and the RT of the upcoming action to determine whether correct decoding was associated with short RT. We observed that activity in the supplementary motor area, dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), and primary motor cortex (M1) measured before action execution predicted the hand used to perform the action with significantly above-chance accuracy (approximately 70%). Furthermore, in most participants, the RT was shorter in trials for which the used hand was correctly predicted by activity in the PMd and M1. The present study showed that preparatory activity in cortical motor areas represents information about the effector used for an upcoming action, and that well-formed motor representations in these regions are associated with reduced response times.
Hirose, S., Nambu, I., & Naito, E. (2018). Cortical activation associated with motor preparation can be used to predict the freely chosen effector of an upcoming movement and reflects response time: An fMRI decoding study. NeuroImage, 183, 584–596. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.060