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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 21;102(25):9032-7. Epub 2005 Jun 14.

Time-varying covariance of neural activities recorded in striatum and frontal cortex as monkeys perform sequential-saccade tasks.

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Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 45 Carleton Street, E25-618, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Cortico-basal ganglia circuits are key parts of the brain's habit system, but little is yet known about how these forebrain pathways function as ingrained habits are performed. We simultaneously recorded spike and local field potential (LFP) activity from regions of the frontal cortex and basal ganglia implicated in visuo-oculomotor control as highly trained macaque monkeys performed sequences of visually guided saccades. The tasks were repetitive, required no new learning, and could be performed nearly automatically. Our findings demonstrate striking differences between the relative timing of striatal and cortical activity during performance of the tasks. At the onset of the visual cues, LFPs in the prefrontal cortex and the oculomotor zone of the striatum showed near-synchronous activation. During the period of sequential-saccade performance, however, peak LFP activity occurred 100-300 msec later in the striatum than in the prefrontal cortex. Peak prefrontal activity tended to be peri-saccadic, whereas peak striatal activity tended to be post-saccadic. This temporal offset was also apparent in pairs of simultaneously recorded prefrontal and striatal neurons. In triple-site recordings, the LFP activity recorded in the supplementary eye field shared temporal characteristics of both the prefrontal and the striatal patterns. The near simultaneity of prefrontal and striatal peak responses at cue onsets, but temporal lag of striatal activity in the movement periods, suggests that the striatum may integrate corollary discharge or confirmatory response signals during sequential task performance. These timing relationships may be signatures of the normal functioning of striatal and frontal cortex during repetitive performance of learned behaviors.

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