In periodic bimanual movements, anti-phase-coordinated patterns often change into in-phase patterns suddenly and involuntarily. Because behavior in the initial period of a sequence of cycles often does not show any obvious errors, it is difficult to predict subsequent movement errors in the later period of the cyclical sequence. Here, we evaluated performance in the later period of the cyclical sequence of bimanual periodic movements using human brain activity measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging as well as using initial movement features. Eighteen subjects performed a 30 s bimanual finger-tapping task. We calculated differences in initiationlocked transient brain activity between antiphase and in-phase tapping conditions. Correlation analysis revealed that the difference in the anterior putamen activity during antiphase compared within-phase tapping conditions was strongly correlated with future instability as measured by the mean absolute deviation of the left-hand intertap interval during antiphase movements relative to in-phase movements (r = 0.81). Among the initial movement features we measured, only the number of taps to establish the antiphase movement pattern exhibited a significant correlation. However, the correlation efficient of 0.60 was not high enough to predict the characteristics of subsequent movement. There was no significant correlation between putamen activity and initial movement features. It is likely that initiating unskilled difficult movements requires increased anterior putamen activity, and this activity increase may facilitate the initiation of movement via the basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuit. Our results suggest that initiation-locked transient activity of the anterior putamen can be used to predict future motor performance.
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