The motor cortex plans voluntary actions – it helps in initiating, planning, controlling and maintaining voluntary movement of skeletal muscles, coordinates sequences of movements and relay commands to the appropriate sets of lower motor neurons to execute the desired actions. Diseases or traumas on this part of the brain have adverse effects on the patient. Presently, such diseases include Apraxia, which causes an inability to initiate purposeful learned movement in response to external commands despite the ability and desire to perform the movement, and Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease – characterized by loss of the ability to initiate movement or stop it once initiated plus the occurrence of uncontrollable movement.
Modern man, Homo sapiens, has an average cranial capacity of 1350cc far more than all his other earlier ancestors. This increased cranial capacity is credited for his higher intellectual ability over other animals and primates. The brain serves many functions in the body, from thought to emotions, waking and sleeping, respiration, memory, controlling actions just to mention but a few and can thus be considered as the central control for the whole body. Like all other living things, man also moves around in search for food, flight from danger or for pleasure. Movement is a function of muscular flexion and extension all which are under the control of the brain – except for reflexive movements, which are controlled by the spinal cord and mainly help maintain posture and balance without involving the conscious mind.
The brain is divided into six main parts; the cerebral hemispheres, hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum and the brain stem – mid brain, pons and medulla oblongata, each of which has its different functions (Marieb, 2000). The cerebellum contains a region known as the motor cortex in the precentral gyrus that helps in initiating, planning and controlling voluntary movement of skeletal muscles. The motor cortex is further ...
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