Simultaneous motor preparation and execution in a last-moment reach correction task

Nat Commun. 2019 Jun 20;10(1):2718. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-10772-2.


Motor preparation typically precedes movement and is thought to determine properties of upcoming movements. However, preparation has mostly been studied in point-to-point delayed reaching tasks. Here, we ask whether preparation is engaged during mid-reach modifications. Monkeys reach to targets that occasionally jump locations prior to movement onset, requiring a mid-reach correction. In motor cortex and dorsal premotor cortex, we find that the neural activity that signals when to reach predicts monkeys' jump responses on a trial-by-trial basis. We further identify neural patterns that signal where to reach, either during motor preparation or during motor execution. After a target jump, neural activity responds in both preparatory and movement-related dimensions, even though error in preparatory dimensions can be small at that time. This suggests that the same preparatory process used in delayed reaching is also involved in reach correction. Furthermore, it indicates that motor preparation and execution can be performed simultaneously.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior Observation Techniques
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Time Factors