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Exp Brain Res. 1996 Dec;112(3):335-46.

Control of remembered reaching sequences in monkey. I. Activity during movement in motor and premotor cortex.

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Northwestern University Medical School, Department of Physiology M211, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


Motor and premotor cortex firing patterns from 307 single neurons were recorded while monkeys made rapid sequences of three reaching movements to remembered target buttons arrayed in two-dimensional space. A primary goal was to study and compare directionally tuned responses for each of three movement periods during 12 movement sequences that uniformly sampled the directional space in front of the monkey. The majority of neurons showed maximal responses during movements in a preferred direction with smaller increases during movements close to the preferred direction. These responses showed a statistically significant regression fit to a cosine function for 72% of the neurons examined. Comparisons among tuning directions computed separately for the first, second, and third movement periods suggested the near constancy of preferred direction across a rapidly executed series of movements even though these movements began at different starting points in space. Although directionally tuned neurons were only broadly tuned for a specific direction of movement, the neuronal ensemble carried accurate directional information. A population vector computed by summing vector contributions from the entire population of tuned neurons predicted movement direction with a mean accuracy of 20 degrees. This population code made consistent predictions for each of the 36 movements that were studied using a single set of population parameters. Most of the remaining neurons (24%) that were not tuned during movement did show significant changes in activity during other aspects of task performance. Some nontuned neurons had nondirectional increases that were sustained during movement, while others showed identical phasic bursts during the three movement periods. These nontuned neurons may control stabilizations of the shoulder, trunk, and forearm during movement, or forearm movements during button pushing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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