Parts of the Brain That Affect Movement

Movements, both voluntary and involuntary, are coordinated by multiple regions of the brain. The different parts of the brain communicate with each other to carry out the desired movement. If damage occurs to one part of the brain that affects movement, it can result in mobility problems and alter the motor line of communication.


One area highly involved in movement is the cerebellum, which is the second largest part of the brain and is located at the back of the brain. According to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the cerebellum's main function is to coordinate movements by positioning and controlling the muscles in reaction to sensory input 1. The cerebellum is also a storage area for procedural memories, which are memories of motor skills. The Centre for Neuro Skills adds that the cerebellum controls balance and equilibrium.

Motor Cortex

The motor cortex affects many of the movement abilities of the body. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research state that the motor cortex is made up of three parts: the primary motor cortex (located in area four of the precentral gyrus), the pre-motor area and the supplementary motor area, the latter two of which are located in area six 1. The primary motor cortex controls muscle contractions on the same side of the body. These are needed for movement. The pre-motor area takes the incoming sensory information needed for the body movements, and the supplementary motor area plans the complex movements. The motor cortex is not the only area of the brain responsible for voluntary movements—the prefrontal cortex and the posterior parietal cortex are also involved.

Frontal Lobe

According to the Centre for Neuro Skills, the frontal lobe, which is the part of the cerebral cortex near the forehead, affects movement. The frontal lobe stores motor memories, controls simple movements and does the sequencing of complex movements.

Basal Ganglia

The Lundbeck Institute states that the basal ganglia contain multiple structures—the caudate nucleus, putamen and globus pallidus—that are involved in movement control. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research add that the basal ganglia are relays for motor information 1. They send signals between the cerebral cortex and the supplementary motor area. The basal ganglia also act as a motor filter, preventing movements when they are not appropriate.