Premotor and supplementary motor cortex in rhesus monkeys: neuronal activity during externally- and internally-instructed motor tasks

Exp Brain Res. 1988;72(2):237-48. doi: 10.1007/BF00250247.


We compared neuronal activity in the premotor (PM) and supplementary motor cortex (SM) of two rhesus monkeys as they performed two tasks. In an externally-instructed task, a visuospatial instruction stimulus indicated which of two touch pads should be the target of a forelimb movement. In an internally-instructed task, the visuospatial stimulus was either irrelevant or not presented, but in either case the target alternated between the two touch pads in blocks of 20 trials each. In both tasks, the monkey withheld movement for a self-timed delay period. Neuronal activity modulation during the delay period (set-related activity) and immediately before movement (movement-related activity) was comparable in PM and SM, both in terms of the proportion of cells with both of those activity patterns and their depth of modulation. Thus, our findings do not provide strong support for a clear-cut functional division between PM and SM regarding the control of externally- and internally-instructed limb movements. Within PM, 57 out of 96 cells with set-related activity showed similar modulation during the two tasks, supporting the proposition that such activity contributes to the preparation for a limb movement. In 32 of the 39 PM set-related neurons that showed a significant activity difference between the two tasks, activity was greater in the externally-instructed task. This finding supports the hypothesis that set-related activity in PM contributes more to sensorially-instructed than to other movements.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Electromyography
  • Macaca / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology*
  • Motor Activity*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation