Hemispheric Differences of Motor Execution: A Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Study
Distal movements of the limbs are predominantly controlled by the contralateral hemisphere. However, functional neuroimaging studies do not unequivocally demonstrate a lateralization of the cerebral activation during hand movements. While some studies show a predominant activation of the contralateral hemisphere, other studies provide evidence for a symmetrically distributed bihemispheric activation. However, the divergent results may also be due to methodological shortcomings. Therefore, the present study using functional near-infrared spectroscopy examines cerebral activation in both hemispheres during motor actions of the right and left hands. Twenty participants performed a flexion/extension task with the right- or left-hand thumb. Cerebral oxygenation changes were recorded from 48 channels over the primary motor, pre-motor, supplementary motor, primary somatosensory cortex, subcentral area, and the supramarginal gyrus of each hemisphere. A consistent increase of cerebral oxygenation was found for oxygenated and for total hemoglobin in the hemisphere contralateral to the moving hand, regardless of the laterality. These findings are in line with previous data from localization [1–3] and brain imaging studies [4–6]. The present data support the proposition that there is no hemispheric specialization for simple distal motor tasks. Both hemispheres are equally activated during movement of the contralateral upper limb.
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