Ramping activity is a cortical mechanism of temporal control of action

Curr Opin Behav Sci. 2016 Apr;8:226-230. doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2016.02.017. Epub 2016 Feb 13.

Abstract

A fundamental feature of the mammalian cortex is to guide movements in time. One common pattern of neural activity observed across cortical regions during temporal control of action is ramping activity. Ramping activity can be defined as consistent increases or decreases in neuronal firing rate across behaviorally relevant epochs of time. Prefrontal brain regions, including medial frontal and lateral prefrontal cortex, are critical for temporal control of action. Ramping is among the most common pattern of neural activity in these prefrontal areas during behavioral tasks. Finally, stimulating prefrontal neurons in medial frontal cortex can influence the timing of movement. These data can be helpful in approaching human diseases with impaired temporal of action, such as Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. Cortical ramping activity might contribute to new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for these and other debilitating human diseases.

Keywords: Climbing; dopamine; interval timing; prefrontal cortex; reaction time.