Finger-tapping tasks are one of the most common paradigms used to study the human motor system in functional neuroimaging studies. These tasks can vary both in the presence or absence of a pacing stimulus as well as in the complexity of the tapping task. A voxel-wise, coordinate-based meta-analysis was performed on 685 sets of activation foci in Talairach space gathered from 38 published studies employing finger-tapping tasks. Clusters of concordance were identified within the primary sensorimotor cortices, supplementary motor area, premotor cortex, inferior parietal cortices, basal ganglia, and anterior cerebellum. Subsequent analyses performed on subsets of the primary set of foci demonstrated that the use of a pacing stimulus resulted in a larger, more diverse network of concordance clusters, in comparison to varying the complexity of the tapping task. The majority of the additional concordance clusters occurred in regions involved in the temporal aspects of the tapping task, rather than its execution. Tapping tasks employing a visual pacing stimulus recruited a set of nodes distinct from the results observed in those tasks employing either an auditory or no pacing stimulus, suggesting differing cognitive networks when integrating visual or auditory pacing stimuli into simple motor tasks. The relatively uniform network of concordance clusters observed across the more complex finger-tapping tasks suggests that further complexity, beyond the use of multi-finger sequences or bimanual tasks, may be required to fully reveal those brain regions necessary to execute truly complex movements.
Witt, S. T., Laird, A. R., & Meyerand, M. E. (2008). Functional neuroimaging correlates of finger-tapping task variations: an ALE meta-analysis. NeuroImage, 42(1), 343-356. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.04.025