Temporal evolution of a decision-making process in medial premotor cortex

Neuron. 2002 Mar 14;33(6):959-72. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(02)00613-x.


The events linking sensory discrimination to motor action remain unclear. It is not known, for example, whether the motor areas of the frontal lobe receive the result of the discrimination process from other areas or whether they actively participate in it. To investigate this, we trained monkeys to discriminate between two mechanical vibrations applied sequentially to the fingertips; here subjects had to recall the first vibration, compare it to the second one, and indicate with a hand/arm movement which of the two vibrations had the higher frequency. We recorded the activity of single neurons in medial premotor cortex (MPC) and found that their responses correlate with the diverse stages of the discrimination process. Thus, activity in MPC reflects the temporal evolution of the decision-making process leading to action selection during this perceptual task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Electrophysiology
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Time Factors
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Vibration