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Abstract

What changes in neural architecture account for the emergence and expansion of dexterity in primates? Dexterity, or skill in performing motor tasks, depends on the ability to generate highly fractionated patterns of muscle activity. It also involves the spatiotemporal coordination of activity in proximal and distal muscles across multiple joints. Many motor skills require the generation of complex movement sequences that are only acquired and refined through extensive practice. Improvements in dexterity have enabled primates to manufacture and use tools and humans to engage in skilled motor behaviors such as typing, dance, musical performance, and sports. Our analysis leads to the following synthesis: The neural substrate that endows primates with their enhanced motor capabilities is due, in part, to () major organizational changes in the primary motor cortex and () the proliferation of output pathways from other areas of the cerebral cortex, especially from the motor areas on the medial wall of the hemisphere.

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2021-07-08
2024-04-15
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