Skillful interaction with the world requires that the brain uses a multitude of sensorimotor programs and subroutines, such as for reaching, grasping, and the coordination of the two body halves. However, it is unclear how these programs operate together. Networks for reaching, grasping, and bimanual coordination might converge in common brain areas. For example, Brodmann area 7 (BA7) is known to activate in disparate tasks involving the three types of movements separately. Here, we asked whether BA7 plays a key role in integrating coordinated reach-to-grasp movements for both arms together. To test this, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to disrupt BA7 activity in the left and right hemispheres, while human participants performed a bimanual size-perturbation grasping task using the index and middle fingers of both hands to grasp a rectangular object whose orientation (and thus grasp-relevant width dimension) might or might not change. We found that TMS of the right BA7 during object perturbation disrupted the bimanual grasp and transport/coordination components, and TMS over the left BA7 disrupted unimanual grasps. These results show that right BA7 is causally involved in the integration of reach-to-grasp movements of the two arms.
NEW & NOTEWORTHY Our manuscript describes a role of human Brodmann area 7 (BA7) in the integration of multiple visuomotor programs for reaching, grasping, and bimanual coordination. Our results are the first to suggest that right BA7 is critically involved in the coordination of reach-to-grasp movements of the two arms. The results complement previous reports of right-hemisphere lateralization for bimanual grasps.
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