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J Neurophysiol. 1995 Sep;74(3):911-33.

Activity in the caudate nucleus of monkey during spatial sequencing.

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  • 1Laboratoire Vision et Motricité, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U94, Bron, France.


1. There are indications that the execution of behavioral sequences involves the basal ganglia. In this study we examined the role of the caudate nucleus in the construction, storage, and execution of spatial plans. 2. Two monkeys (Macaca mulatta) were trained to perform sequences of saccades and arm movements. The animals had to remember the order of illumination, variable from one sequence to another, of three fixed spatial targets. After a delay, they had to visually orient toward, and press each target in the same order. Six different sequences were executed on the basis of the order of illumination of the targets. Single cell activity was recorded from the four caudate nuclei of the two monkeys. 3. Neural activity was analyzed in each sequence during 10 different periods: the instruction period in which the targets were illuminated, the three orientation periods toward the different targets, the three postsaccadic periods, and the three periods of target pressing. Statistical comparisons were made to detect differences between the different sequences with respect to activity in each period (sequence specificity). 4. A total of 2,100 neurons were studied, of which 387 were task related. The task-related cells were found in both the head and the body of the caudate nucleus. 5. During central fixation, anticipatory activity (n = 81) preceded onset of specific events. Four groups were considered: 1) neurons (n = 46) anticipating offset of the central fixation point, 2) neurons (n = 7) anticipating the illumination of any target, regardless of its spatial position or order of presentation (rank), 3) neurons (n = 17) anticipating the illumination of the first target, regardless of its spatial position, and 4) neurons (n = 11) anticipating the illumination of a given target, regardless of its rank. 6. Phasic visual responses to target onset were observed in 48 cells. The cells responded primarily to the contralateral and upper targets. In a majority (n = 35), visual responses were modulated by the rank of the target(s). Many cells (n = 20) responded only if the corresponding target was first; other cells responded only if the target was second or if it had complex time relationships with the other targets. 7. The responses of the cells to the same instruction stimuli repeated twice in a row, and under the condition that the animal did not behaviorally use the first instruction in between, were tested. More than one-third of the tested cells (n = 14) did not respond, or responded very weakly, to the second instruction.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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