Single reach plans in dorsal premotor cortex during a two-target task

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 3;9(1):3556. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05959-y.


In many situations, we are faced with multiple potential actions, but must wait for more information before knowing which to perform. Movement scientists have long asked whether in these delayed-response situations the brain plans both potential movements simultaneously, or if it simply chooses one and then switches later if necessary. To answer this question, we used simultaneously recorded activity from populations of neurons in macaque dorsal premotor cortex to track moment-by-moment deliberation between two potential reach targets. We found that the neural activity only ever indicated a single-reach plan (with some targets favored more than others), and that initial plans often predicted the monkeys' behavior on both Free-Choice trials and incorrect Cued trials. Our results suggest that premotor cortex plans only one option at a time, and that decisions are strongly influenced by the initial response to the available set of movement options.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Cues*
  • Decision Making
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motor Cortex / cytology
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*