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Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 15–26 | Cite as

Striatal neuronal activity during the initiation and execution of hand movements made in response to visual and vibratory cues

  • T. W. Gardiner
  • R. J. Nelson
Article

Summary

Recordings were obtained from 146 neurons in the neostriatum of rhesus monkeys while they performed wrist movements in response to visual and vibratory cues. Of these, 75 putamen and 29 caudate neurons exhibited changes in firing rate that were temporally related to the onset of the wrist movements and that began prior to movement onset. This premovement activity (PMA) usually was directionally specific, in that the magnitude or direction of change in firing rates was different during flexion trials as compared to trials involving wrist extension. PMA onset usually preceded movement onset by more than 100 ms and in most instances preceded the average onset of task-related changes in electromyographic (EMG) activity in muscles of the wrist and forelimb. For most neurons. the changes in neuronal activity that began prior to movement were maintained during movement execution. However, approximately one-third of the neurons that exhibited PMA changed their firing rate in the opposite direction, relative to their PMA and to their baseline rate of activity, once the movement began. Several other neurons either exhibited PMA only or they altered their discharge rates during movement execution but did not exhibit PMA. These observations suggest that, despite the close temporal relationship between the onset of PMA and the onset of wrist movement, the neuronal mechanisms mediating the PMA may differ from those that occur during movement execution. The PMA onset of neostriatal neurons occurred earlier in visually cued than in vibratory cued trials. These differences were statistically significant only for flexion trials, however, in which movements were made against a load and in the same direction as the palmar vibratory stimulus. For trials involving wrist extension, PMA onsets for visually cued as compared with vibratory cued trials were not statistically different. These findings contrast with data obtained previously from somatosensory cortical neurons during performance of the same behavioral task. On average, PMA in the putamen began earlier, relative to movement onset, than it did in the somatosensory cortex. Moreover, in the somatosensory cortex, PMA onset occurred earlier in vibratory cued than in visually cued trials, irrespective of movement direction (Nelson 1988; Nelson and Douglas 1989). For putamen neurons, but not for caudate or cortical neurons, the onset of PMA also occurred significantly earlier during extension trials than flexion trials, irrespective of the modality of the “go-cue”. These modality-dependent and direction-dependent differences in the PMA onset of neostriatal neurons may reflect the responsiveness of these neurons to somatosensory inputs (e.g., load conditions and vibratory stimulation) that were associated with the behavioral task. These data confirm observations made by other investigators that a substantial proportion of neurons in the putamen exhibit movement-related changes in discharge rate that are initiated prior to task-related changes in EMG activity, and they further suggest that this PMA may be initiated sufficiently early to influence even the earliest task-related activity of cortical neurons.

Key words

Neostriatum Visual and vibratory stimuli Wrist movements Rhesus monkeys 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. W. Gardiner
    • 1
  • R. J. Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyCollege of Medicine, University of TennesseeMemphisUSA

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