A Map of Anticipatory Activity in Mouse Motor Cortex

Neuron. 2017 May 17;94(4):866-879.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.05.005.


Activity in the mouse anterior lateral motor cortex (ALM) instructs directional movements, often seconds before movement initiation. It is unknown whether this preparatory activity is localized to ALM or widely distributed within motor cortex. Here we imaged activity across motor cortex while mice performed a whisker-based object localization task with a delayed, directional licking response. During tactile sensation and the delay epoch, object location was represented in motor cortex areas that are medial and posterior relative to ALM, including vibrissal motor cortex. Preparatory activity appeared first in deep layers of ALM, seconds before the behavioral response, and remained localized to ALM until the behavioral response. Later, widely distributed neurons represented the outcome of the trial. Cortical area was more predictive of neuronal selectivity than laminar location or axonal projection target. Motor cortex therefore represents sensory, motor, and outcome information in a spatially organized manner.

Keywords: calcium; decision; gcamp; gcamp6; motor cortex; motor planning; persistent activity; short-term memory; two-photon.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Decision Making
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / metabolism
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Optical Imaging
  • Pyramidal Tracts / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Vibrissae


  • Calcium