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A motor cortex circuit for motor planning and movement

Nature volume 519, pages 5156 (05 March 2015) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Activity in motor cortex predicts specific movements seconds before they occur, but how this preparatory activity relates to upcoming movements is obscure. We dissected the conversion of preparatory activity to movement within a structured motor cortex circuit. An anterior lateral region of the mouse cortex (a possible homologue of premotor cortex in primates) contains equal proportions of intermingled neurons predicting ipsi- or contralateral movements, yet unilateral inactivation of this cortical region during movement planning disrupts contralateral movements. Using cell-type-specific electrophysiology, cellular imaging and optogenetic perturbation, we show that layer 5 neurons projecting within the cortex have unbiased laterality. Activity with a contralateral population bias arises specifically in layer 5 neurons projecting to the brainstem, and only late during movement planning. These results reveal the transformation of distributed preparatory activity into movement commands within hierarchically organized cortical circuits.

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Acknowledgements

We thank B. Dickson, S. Druckmann, J. Dudman, D. Gutnisky, H. Inagaki, V. Jayaraman, D. O’Connor, S. Peron, T. Sato and G. Shepherd for comments on the manuscript and discussion, L. Walendy and E. Ophir for animal training, S. Michael and A. Hu for histology, T. Harris and B. Barbarits for the silicon probe recording system. This work was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. N.L. is a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation postdoctoral fellow.

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Affiliations

  1. Janelia Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia 20147, USA

    • Nuo Li
    • , Tsai-Wen Chen
    • , Zengcai V. Guo
    •  & Karel Svoboda
  2. Laboratory of Systems Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA

    • Charles R. Gerfen

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Contributions

N.L., Z.G. and K.S. initiated this study. N.L. performed electrophysiology and optogenetic experiments. T.W.C. performed imaging. T.W.C., N.L., and C.G. performed anatomical experiments. N.L., T.W.C., K.S. analysed data. N.L. and K.S. wrote the paper, with input from all authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karel Svoboda.

Data have been deposited at https://crcns.org/ and can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.6080/K0RF5RZT.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14178

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