Motor cortical activity preceding a memorized movement trajectory with an orthogonal bend

Experimental Brain Research - 1993-07-01Ashe J, Taira M, Smyrnis N, Pellizzer G, Georgakopoulos T, Lurito JT, Georgopoulos AP10.1007/BF00229661
Two monkeys were trained to make an arm movement with an orthogonal bend, first up and then to the left (◹), following a waiting period. They held a two-dimensional manipulandum over a spot of light at the center of a planar working surface. When this light went off, the animals were required to hold the manipulandum there for 600-700 ms and then move the handle up and to the left to receive a liquid reward. There were no external signals concerning the "go" time or the trajectory of the movement. It was hypothesized that during that period signs of directional processing relating to the upcoming movement would be identified in the motor cortex. Following 20 trials of the memorized movement trajectory, 40 trials of visually triggered movements in radially arranged directions were performed. The activity of 137 single cells in the motor cortex was recorded extracellularly during performance of the task. It was found that 62.8% of the cells changed activity during the memorized waiting period. During the waiting period, the population vector (Georgopoulos et al. 1983, 1984) began to grow approximately 130 ms after the center light was turned off; it pointed first in the direction of the second part of the memorized movement (←) and then rotated clockwise towards the direction of the initial part of the movement (↑). These findings indicate processing of directional information during the waiting period preceding the memorized movement. This conclusion was supported by the results of experiments in ten human subjects, who performed the same memorized movement (◹). In 10% of the trials a visual stimulus was shown in radially arranged directions in which the subjects had to move; this stimulus was shown at 0, 200, and 400 ms from the time the center light was turned off. We found that as the interval increased the reaction time shortened for the visual stimulus that was in the same direction as the upward component of the memorized movement.