Supplementary Motor Area

Last update: September 18, 2022
By BrainMatters


This area has to do with controlling movements. The exact function of this brain area is not yet clear. However, when there is damage to this area, it is difficult to perform spontaneous or complex movements.


This area sends signals directly to motor areas in order to control movements. It is not yet clear exactly what the function of the supplementary motor area (SMA) is, but there are several theories about it:

  • Controlling stability of the body while standing or walking
    • Coordinating successive movements and actions
    • The coordination of movements performed by two different parts of the body at the same time
    • Controlling internally generated movements. So this means moving not in response to a stimulus

Unfortunately, the theories have not yet been confirmed by research results.


This area lies between the prefrontal cortex and the primary visual cortex. Next to the SMA is the premotor area (PMA). The SMA is part of Brodmann Area 6, in fact it is the middle part of this area.


This brain area is also involved in producing speech. Specifically, this area is important for selecting words, encoding them and controlling motor output. Motor output here refers to the movements of the jaws and mouth to produce sounds.


With damage to this area, patients have difficulty with complex movements. This refers mainly to spontaneous, internally controlled movements. This does not include automated movements such as walking or dressing.

Auteur: Myrthe Princen (translated by Melanie Smekal)

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