Time-modulated neuronal activity in the premotor cortex of macaque monkeys

Exp Brain Res. 2001 Nov;141(2):254-60. doi: 10.1007/s002210100818.


A voluntary motor act, executed in response to a stimulus, requires both spatial and temporal computation. Even though electrophysiological and positron emission tomography (PET) investigations on humans suggest that SMA, medial prefrontal cortex and primary motor cortex play a role in temporal mechanisms, we have few data about neuronal time computation in the premotor cortex. The involvement of monkey premotor area (PM) in motor learning and cognitive processes, and the presence of buildup neurons, whose activity is closely related to the motor action, prompted us to investigate the involvement of these set-related neurons in the time domain. To this end we manipulated the duration of a pre-cue in a visuomotor task while recording unit activity. We found that, when the duration of the pre-cue was predictable and long (5 s), delay of the onset of cell activity in consecutive trials gradually increased. On the other hand, when the duration was unpredictable or predictable and short (1 s), this phenomenon could not be detected. The inconsistent discharge correlations with expected reward and attentional processes, and the specific discharge relationship to the time instruction, suggest that these buildup neurons reflect a learning process in the time domain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm / physiology
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cues
  • Electromyography
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Macaca fascicularis / anatomy & histology
  • Macaca fascicularis / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reward
  • Time Perception / physiology*