Motor cortical activity in a context-recall task

A monkey was trained to respond on the basis of the serial position of a test stimulus in a sequence. First, three stimuli were presented successively on a circle. Then one of them (except the last) changed color (test stimulus) and served as the go signal: The monkey was required to produce a motor response in the direction of the stimulus that followed the test stimulus. When the test stimulus was the second in the sequence, there was a change in motor cortical activity from a pattern reflecting the direction of this stimulus to the pattern associated with the direction of the motor response. This change was abrupt, occurred 100 to 150 milliseconds after the go signal, and was evident both in the activity of single cells and in the time-varying neuronal population vector. These findings identify the neural correlates of a switching process that is different from a mental rotation described previously.