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Elife. 2016 Apr 14;5. pii: e13141. doi: 10.7554/eLife.13141.

Distributed task-specific processing of somatosensory feedback for voluntary motor control.

Author information

Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen's Univertsity, Kingston, Canada.
Brain Health Institute, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, New Jersey, United States.
Physiology and Pharmacology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, Ontario, Canada.
Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
Department of Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.


Corrective responses to limb disturbances are surprisingly complex, but the neural basis of these goal-directed responses is poorly understood. Here we show that somatosensory feedback is transmitted to many sensory and motor cortical regions within 25 ms of a mechanical disturbance applied to the monkey's arm. When limb feedback was salient to an ongoing motor action (task engagement), neurons in parietal area 5 immediately (~25 ms) increased their response to limb disturbances, whereas neurons in other regions did not alter their response until 15 to 40 ms later. In contrast, initiation of a motor action elicited by a limb disturbance (target selection) altered neural responses in primary motor cortex ~65 ms after the limb disturbance, and then in dorsal premotor cortex, with no effect in parietal regions until 150 ms post-perturbation. Our findings highlight broad parietofrontal circuits that provide the neural substrate for goal-directed corrections, an essential aspect of highly skilled motor behaviors.


computational biology; cortical response; mechanical perturbation; motor control; non-human primates; rhesus macaque; sensory feedback; systems biology; task dependency

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