Complex motor function in humans: Validating and extending the postulates of Alexandr R. Luria

Ashish A. Bhimani, Petr Hlustik, Steven L. Small, Ana Solodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: We used functional brain imaging to reevaluate Luria's postulates and to elaborate the neural circuitry underlying performance of complex motor tasks. Background: The anatomic organization and physiologic functioning of the normal human motor system have great significance for understanding motor dysfunction and remediation in neurology. Working with victims of penetrating head injuries, noted Russian neuropsychologist Aleksandr R. Luria designed several tests of fine motor control to understand their difficulties with complex voluntary movements. This led to his postulates that such function involves the premotor cortices and their interaction with the parietal lobe. Method: Six healthy young adults performed the hand imitation, fist-scissors-gun, and piano key tasks during blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T. Results: All 3 tasks revealed activation of both premotor and parietal cortices. Furthermore, while hand Imitation relied more on the ventral premotor area and right parietal lobe, fist-scissors-gun and piano key relied more on the supplementary motor cortex. Conclusions: We postulate that differences in task-dependent activations across these tasks relate to degrees of sequential movement, pacing, and imitation. These results uphold Luria's original hypotheses, and extend that work by providing a further characterization of the motor areas involved in complex motor behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Imitation
  • Mirror system
  • Motor cortex
  • Motor planning
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Parietal lobe
  • Premotor cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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