Department of Neurobiology
Dum, Richard
Research Associate Professor
Department of Neurobiology
University of Pittsburgh
4072 Biomedical Science Tower 3
3501 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3301
Tel: 412-648-9049
Fax: 412-383-9061

The "premotor cortex" in the frontal lobe of primates is thought to be a center for the integration of complex skilled movements. We have recently presented evidence that the premotor cortex is not a single region but is composed of multiple, spatially separate 'premotor areas'. We have determined that the frontal lobe of primates contains at least 6 somatotopically organized premotor areas. These premotor areas project not only to the primary motor cortex, but also directly to the spinal cord. Our findings suggest that each premotor area may be a source of central command signals for the generation and control of movement.

The goal of our research is to understand the unique role that each premotor area performs in the generation and control of skilled movements, particularly those of the hand. We are using a multidisciplinary approach to examine: 1) the pattern of terminations from each premotor area to the spinal cord using conventional anterograde neuronal tracers; 2) the organization of neural circuits between the premotor areas and subcortical structures (e.g. the basal ganglia and cerebellum) using transneuronal tracing with neurotropic viruses; and 3) the somatotopic organization of each premotor area as determined by intracortical stimulation.


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