Neural correlates of reaching decisions in dorsal premotor cortex: specification of multiple direction choices and final selection of action

Neuron. 2005 Mar 3;45(5):801-14. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2005.01.027.


We show that while a primate chooses between two reaching actions, its motor system first represents both options and later reflects selection between them. When two potential targets appeared, many (43%) task-related, directionally tuned cells in dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) discharged if one of the targets was near their preferred direction. At the population level, this generated two simultaneous sustained directional signals corresponding to the current reach options. After a subsequent nonspatial cue identified the correct target, the corresponding directional signal increased, and the signal for the rejected target was suppressed. The PMd population reliably predicted the monkey's response choice, including errors. This supports a planning model in which multiple reach options are initially specified and then gradually eliminated in a competition for overt execution, as more information accumulates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*