The role of the pre-supplementary motor area in the control of action.
Nachev P., Wydell H., O'neill K., Husain M., Kennard C.
Although regions within the medial frontal cortex are known to be active during voluntary movements their precise role remains unclear. Here we combine functional imaging localisation with psychophysics to demonstrate a strikingly selective contralesional impairment in the ability to inhibit ongoing movement plans in a patient with a rare lesion involving the right pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA), but sparing the supplementary motor area (SMA). We find no corresponding delay in simple reaction times, and show that the inhibitory deficit is sensitive to the presence of competition between responses. The findings demonstrate that the pre-SMA plays a critical role in exerting control over voluntary actions in situations of response conflict. We discuss these findings in the context of a unified framework of pre-SMA function, and explore the degree to which extant data on this region can be explained by this function alone.