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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

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


  1. 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. 2.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

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

  4. 4.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

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

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

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

  14. 14.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

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

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



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

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


Quick links

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter for a daily update on COVID-19 science.
Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing