Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • News & Views
  • Published:


A new spin on fidgets

We express decisions through movements, but not all movements matter to the outcome. For example, fidgeting is a common yet ‘nonessential’ behavior we exhibit. New evidence suggests that this non-task-related movement profoundly shapes neural activity in expert mice performing tasks.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Movement signals dominate neural activity across the brain.


  1. Mrazek, M. D., Phillips, D. T., Franklin, M. S., Broadway, J. M. & Schooler, J. W. Front. Psychol. 4, 560 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Farley, J., Risko, E. F. & Kingstone, A. Front. Psychol. 4, 619 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Musall, S., Kaufman, M.T., Juavinett, A.L., Gluf, S. & Churchland, A.K. Nat. Neurosci. (2019).

  4. Zhang, Y. et al. Neurophotonics 4, 1–12 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Mohajerani, M. H. et al. Nat. Neurosci. 16, 1426–1435 (2013).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Stringer, C. et al. Science 364, eaav7893 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Sofroniew, N. J., Flickinger, D., King, J. & Svoboda, K. eLife 5, e14472 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Allen, W. E. & Chen, M. Z. Science 364, eaav3932 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Gründemann, J. et al. Science 364, eaav8736 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Jun, J. J. et al. Nature 551, 232–236 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Omrani, M., Murnaghan, C. D., Pruszynski, J. A. & Scott, S. H. eLife 5, e13141 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Keller, G. B., Bonhoeffer, T. & Hübener, M. Neuron 74, 809–815 (2012).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Steinbuch, J.G. Beytrag zur Physiologie der Sinne. (Schrag, 1811).

  14. Stein, R. B., Gossen, E. R. & Jones, K. E. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 6, 389–397 (2005).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Leinweber, M., Ward, D. R., Sobczak, J. M., Attinger, A. & Keller, G. B. Neuron 95, 1420–1432.e5 (2017).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mackenzie Weygandt Mathis.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Mathis, M.W. A new spin on fidgets. Nat Neurosci 22, 1614–1616 (2019).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing