Integration of target and body-part information in the premotor cortex when planning action

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To plan an action, we must first select an object to act on and the body part (or parts) to use to accomplish our intention. To plan the motor task of reaching, we specify both the target to reach for and the arm to use. In the process of planning and preparing a motor task, information about the motor target and the arm to use must be integrated before a motor program can be formulated to generate the appropriate limb movement. One of the structures in the brain that is probably involved in integrating these two sets of information is the premotor area in the cerebral cortex of primates1,2,3,4,5. The lateral sector of the dorsal premotor cortex is known to receive both visual and somatosensory input6,7,8, and we show here that neurons in this area gather information about both the target and the body part, while subsequent activity specifies the planned action.

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Figure 1: Experimental design.
Figure 2: Two examples of neuronal activity in the PMd.
Figure 3: Action-selective activity.
Figure 4: An example of neuronal activity exhibiting selectivity for a first cue instruction and also for a planned action.


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We thank M. Kurama, Y. Takahashi and S. Hoffman for technical assistance. This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (E.H.), by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture of Japan, and by the Japan Science and Technology Corporation (J.T.).

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Correspondence to Jun Tanji.

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