Performance monitoring by presupplementary and supplementary motor area during an arm movement countermanding task

J Neurophysiol. 2013 Apr;109(7):1928-39. doi: 10.1152/jn.00688.2012. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


A key component of executive control and decision making is the ability to use the consequences of chosen actions to update and inform the process of future action selection. Evaluative signals, which monitor the outcomes of actions, are critical for this ability. Signals related to the evaluation of actions have been identified in eye movement-related areas of the medial frontal cortex. Here we examined whether such evaluative signals are also present in areas of the medial frontal cortex related to arm movements. To answer this question, we recorded from cells in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and pre-SMA, while monkeys performed an arm movement version of the countermanding paradigm. SMA and pre-SMA have been implicated in the higher-order control of movement selection and execution, although their precise role within the skeletomotor control circuit is unclear. We found evaluative signals that encode information about the expected outcome of the reward, the actual outcome, and the mismatch between actual and intended outcome. These findings suggest that signals that monitor and evaluate movement outcomes are represented throughout the medial frontal cortex, playing a general role across effector systems. These evaluation signals supervise the relationship between intentional motor behavior and reward expectation and could be used to adaptively shape future goal-directed behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / innervation
  • Arm / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement*
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reward