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Nat Neurosci. 2014 Nov;17(11):1574-82. doi: 10.1038/nn.3826. Epub 2014 Sep 28.

Neural antecedents of self-initiated actions in secondary motor cortex.

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1
Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Lisbon, Portugal.

Abstract

The neural origins of spontaneous or self-initiated actions are not well understood and their interpretation is controversial. To address these issues, we used a task in which rats decide when to abort waiting for a delayed tone. We recorded neurons in the secondary motor cortex (M2) and interpreted our findings in light of an integration-to-bound decision model. A first population of M2 neurons ramped to a constant threshold at rates proportional to waiting time, strongly resembling integrator output. A second population, which we propose provide input to the integrator, fired in sequences and showed trial-to-trial rate fluctuations correlated with waiting times. An integration model fit to these data also quantitatively predicted the observed inter-neuronal correlations. Together, these results reinforce the generality of the integration-to-bound model of decision-making. These models identify the initial intention to act as the moment of threshold crossing while explaining how antecedent subthreshold neural activity can influence an action without implying a decision.

PMID:
25262496
DOI:
10.1038/nn.3826
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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