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: Traditionally, primary motor cortex (M1) has been thought to be involved solely in planning and generating movements. Recent evidence suggests that the arm area of M1 plays a role in other functions, such as the representation of serial order (Pellizzer et al. 1995, Science 269:702-705; Carpenter et al. 1999, Science 283:1752-1757) and spatial processing (Georgopoulos et al. 1989, Science 243:234-236). Previous studies of such cognitive processes have used tasks in which a directed arm movement was required, raising a question as to whether this brain area is involved in cognitive processing per se, or whether such cognitive signals may be gated into the arm area of M1 only when arm movements are required. To study this question, we developed a task that required a spatial analysis of a complex visual stimulus, but required no arm movement as a response. In this task, monkeys were shown an octagonal maze. After an imposed delay of 2 to 2.5 s, they indicated whether a path that emanated from the center of the maze exited at the perimeter (exit maze) or terminated within the maze (no-exit maze) by pressing a pedal with their left or right foot, respectively. We recorded from 785 cells from the arm area of M1 from two monkeys during the delay period of the maze task. We found that cell activity was influenced by both the exit status and the direction of the path, beginning soon after the maze was displayed. This activity was not related to the activation of arm muscles, suggesting that the directional signals observed represented abstract spatial aspects of maze processing. Finally, we compared maze-related activity of M1 neurons with those recorded from posterior parietal area 7a, reported previously (Crowe et al. 2004). Interestingly, cells from each area exhibited similar properties. Both the exit status and path direction were encoded by cells in M1 and 7a, although to different extents. An analysis of the time-course of the neural representation of these factors revealed that area 7a and M1 begin to encode these factors at the same time, suggesting these brain areas are part of a distributed system performing the spatial computations involved in maze solution.Experimental Brain Research 10/2004; 158(1):28-34. · 2.22 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The lateral prefrontal cortex is critically involved in broad aspects of executive behavioral control. Early studies emphasized its role in the short-term retention of information retrieved from cortical association areas and in the inhibition of prepotent responses. Recent studies of subhuman primates and humans have revealed the role of this area in more general aspects of behavioral planning. Novel findings of neuronal activity have specified how neurons in this area take part in selective attention for action and in selecting an intended action. Furthermore, the involvement of the lateral prefrontal cortex in the implementation of behavioral rules and in setting multiple behavioral goals has been discovered. Recent studies have begun to reveal neuronal mechanisms for strategic behavioral planning and for the development of knowledge that enables the planning of macrostructures of event-action sequences at the conceptual level.Physiological Reviews 02/2008; 88(1):37-57. · 30.17 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: We compared neuronal activity in the dorsal and ventral premotor areas (PMd and PMv, respectively) when monkeys were preparing to perform arm-reaching movements in a motor-set period before their actual execution. They were required to select one of four possible movements (reaching to a target on the left or right, using either the left or right arm) in accordance with two sets of instruction cues, followed by a delay period, and a subsequent motor-set period. During the motor-set period, the monkeys were required to get ready for a movement-trigger signal to start the arm-reach promptly. We analyzed the activity of 211 PMd and 109 PMv neurons that showed selectivity for the combination of the two instruction cues during the motor-set period. A majority (53%) of PMd neurons exhibited activity significantly tuned to both target location and arm use, and an approximately equal number of PMd neurons showed selectivity to either forthcoming arm use or target location. In contrast, 60% of PMv neurons showed selectivity for target location only and not for arm use. These findings point to preference in the use of neuronal activity in the two areas: preparation for action in the PMd and preparation for target acquisition in the PMv.Journal of Neurophysiology 03/2002; 87(2):1123-8. · 3.30 Impact Factor