Secondary Motor Cortex: Where 'Sensory' Meets 'Motor' in the Rodent Frontal Cortex

Trends Neurosci. 2017 Mar;40(3):181-193. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.11.006. Epub 2016 Dec 22.


In rodents, the medial aspect of the secondary motor cortex (M2) is known by other names, including medial agranular cortex (AGm), medial precentral cortex (PrCm), and frontal orienting field (FOF). As a subdivision of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), M2 can be defined by a distinct set of afferent and efferent connections, microstimulation responses, and lesion outcomes. However, the behavioral role of M2 remains mysterious. Here, we focus on evidence from rodent studies, highlighting recent findings of early and context-dependent choice-related activity in M2 during voluntary behavior. Based on the current understanding, we suggest that a major function for M2 is to flexibly map antecedent signals such as sensory cues to motor actions, thereby enabling adaptive choice behavior.

Keywords: action selection; motor planning; prefrontal cortex; rodents; sensorimotor transformation; voluntary behavior.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Rodentia