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Motor cortex — to act or not to act?

Nature Reviews Neuroscience volume 18, pages 694705 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

The motor cortex is a large frontal structure in the cerebral cortex of eutherian mammals. A vast array of evidence implicates the motor cortex in the volitional control of motor output, but how does the motor cortex exert this 'control'? Historically, ideas regarding motor cortex function have been shaped by the discovery of cortical 'motor maps' — that is, ordered representations of stimulation-evoked movements in anaesthetized animals. Volitional control, however, entails the initiation of movements and the ability to suppress undesired movements. In this article, we highlight classic and recent findings that emphasize that motor cortex neurons have a role in both processes.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank J. Poulet, M. Vestergaard, A. Clemens, R. Rao and A. Neukirchner for valuable discussions and comments on the manuscript. This work was funded by the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin within the Excellence Initiative of the states and the federal government, BCCN Berlin (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research BMBF, Förderkennzeichen 01GQ1001A), NeuroCure and the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the DFG.

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  1. Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin and the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany.

    • Christian Laut Ebbesen
  2. Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin and the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin, Germany.

    • Michael Brecht

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The authors both researched data for the article, provided substantial contributions to discussion of the content, wrote the article and reviewed and/or edited the manuscript before submission.

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Correspondence to Michael Brecht.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.119

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