Motor cortex localization using functional MRI and transcranial magnetic stimulation Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:Congenital brain lesions producing focal seizures may be accompanied by reorganization of the areas responsible for motor and sensory functions within the brain due to a phenomenon that has been termed "neuronal plasticity." This can be studied using functional MRI (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Using either method, the motor cortex can be localized noninvasively, but to date there have been few studies correlating the level of agreement between the two techniques. METHODS:We used fMRI and TMS to localize the motor cortex in a young woman with intractable focal seizures, congenital left arm weakness, and a dysplastic right hemisphere on MRI. RESULTS:There was excellent agreement in the localization of motor representation for each hand. Both were predominantly located in the left hemisphere. fMRI also showed an area of posterior activation in the right hemisphere, but there was no evidence of descending corticospinal projections from this site using TMS, direct cortical stimulation, and Wada testing. CONCLUSIONS:Functional MRI (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were successfully used to localize cortical motor function before epilepsy surgery. Each technique demonstrated migration of motor function for the left hand to the left motor cortex. After resection of the dysplastic right precentral gyrus there was no permanent increase in weakness or disability. The two techniques are complementary; fMRI indicates all cortical areas activated by the motor task, whereas TMS identifies only those areas giving rise to corticospinal projections.


  • Macdonell, RAL
  • Jackson, GD
  • Curatolo, JM
  • Abbott, DF
  • Berkovic, SF
  • Carey, LM
  • Syngeniotin, A
  • Fabinyi, GC
  • Scheffer, IE

publication date

  • October 22, 1999