Visuomotor processing as reflected in the directional discharge of premotor and primary motor cortex neurons.
ABSTRACT Premotor and primary motor cortical neuronal firing was studied in two monkeys during an instructed delay, pursuit tracking task. The task included a premovement "cue period," during which the target was presented at the periphery of the workspace and moved to the center of the workspace along one of eight directions at one of four constant speeds. The "track period" consisted of a visually guided, error-constrained arm movement during which the animal tracked the target as it moved from the central start box along a line to the opposite periphery of the workspace. Behaviorally, the animals tracked the required directions and speeds with highly constrained trajectories. The eye movements consisted of saccades to the target at the onset of the cue period, followed by smooth pursuit intermingled with saccades throughout the cue and track periods. Initially, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test for direction and period effects in the firing. Subsequently, a linear regression analysis was used to fit the average firing from the cue and track periods to a cosine model. Directional tuning as determined by a significant fit to the cosine model was a prominent feature of the discharge during both the cue and track periods. However, the directional tuning of the firing of a single cell was not always constant across the cue and track periods. Approximately one-half of the neurons had differences in their preferred directions (PDs) of >45 degrees between cue and track periods. The PD in the cue or track period was not dependent on the target speed. A second linear regression analysis based on calculation of the preferred direction in 20-ms bins (i.e., the PD trajectory) was used to examine on a finer time scale the temporal evolution of this change in directional tuning. The PD trajectories in the cue period were not straight but instead rotated over the workspace to align with the track period PD. Both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations occurred. The PD trajectories were relatively straight during most of the track period. The rotation and eventual convergence of the PD trajectories in the cue period to the preferred direction of the track period may reflect the transformation of visual information into motor commands. The widely dispersed PD trajectories in the cue period would allow targets to be detected over a wide spatial aperture. The convergence of the PD trajectories occurring at the cue-track transition may serve as a "Go" signal to move that was not explicitly supplied by the paradigm. Furthermore, the rotation and convergence of the PD trajectories may provide a mechanism for nonstandard mapping. Standard mapping refers to a sensorimotor transformation in which the stimulus is the object of the reach. Nonstandard mapping is the mapping of an arbitrary stimulus into an arbitrary movement. The shifts in the PD may allow relevant visual information from any direction to be transformed into an appropriate movement direction, providing a neural substrate for nonstandard stimulus-response mappings.
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ABSTRACT: Accurately reading the body language of others may be vital for navigating the social world, and this ability may be influenced by factors, such as our gender, personality characteristics and neurocognitive processes. This fMRI study examined the brain activation of 26 healthy individuals (14 women and 12 men) while they judged the action performed or the emotion felt by stick figure characters appearing in different postures. In both tasks, participants activated areas associated with visual representation of the body, motion processing and emotion recognition. Behaviorally, participants demonstrated greater ease in judging the physical actions of the characters compared to judging their emotional states, and participants showed more activation in areas associated with emotion processing in the emotion detection task, whereas they showed more activation in visual, spatial and action-related areas in the physical action task. Gender differences emerged in brain responses, such that men showed greater activation than women in the left dorsal premotor cortex in both tasks. Finally, participants higher in self-reported empathy demonstrated greater activation in areas associated with self-referential processing and emotion interpretation. These results suggest that empathy levels and sex of the participant may affect neural responses to emotional body language.Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 04/2011; 7(4):446-56. · 5.04 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In healthy human subjects, the relative contribution of cortical regions to motor performance varies with the task parameters. Additionally, after stroke, recruitment of cortical areas during a simple motor task varies with corticospinal system integrity. We investigated whether the pattern of motor system recruitment in a task involving increasingly forceful hand grips is influenced by the degree of corticospinal system damage. Nine chronic subcortical stroke patients and nine age-matched controls underwent functional magnetic brain imaging whilst performing repetitive isometric hand grips. Target grip forces were varied between 15% and 45% of individual maximum grip force. Corticospinal system functional integrity was assessed with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Averaged across all forces, there was more task-related activation compared with rest in the secondary motor areas of patients with greater corticospinal system damage, confirming previous reports. However, here we were primarily interested in regional brain activation, which covaried with the amount of force generated, implying a prominent executive role in force production. We found that in control subjects and patients with lesser corticospinal system damage, signal change increased linearly with increasing force output in contralateral primary motor cortex, supplementary motor area and ipsilateral cerebellum. In contrast, in patients with greater corticospinal system damage, force-related signal changes were seen mainly in contralesional dorsolateral premotor cortex, bilateral ventrolateral premotor cortices and contralesional cerebellum, but not ipsilesional primary motor cortex. These findings suggest that the premotor cortices might play a new and functionally relevant role in controlling force production in patients with more severe corticospinal system disruption.European Journal of Neuroscience 04/2007; 25(6):1865-73. · 3.75 Impact Factor
- Cortex 05/2009; 46(2):270-1. · 6.16 Impact Factor