Neural population dynamics in motor cortex are different for reach and grasp

Elife. 2020 Nov 17:9:e58848. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58848.


Low-dimensional linear dynamics are observed in neuronal population activity in primary motor cortex (M1) when monkeys make reaching movements. This population-level behavior is consistent with a role for M1 as an autonomous pattern generator that drives muscles to give rise to movement. In the present study, we examine whether similar dynamics are also observed during grasping movements, which involve fundamentally different patterns of kinematics and muscle activations. Using a variety of analytical approaches, we show that M1 does not exhibit such dynamics during grasping movements. Rather, the grasp-related neuronal dynamics in M1 are similar to their counterparts in somatosensory cortex, whose activity is driven primarily by afferent inputs rather than by intrinsic dynamics. The basic structure of the neuronal activity underlying hand control is thus fundamentally different from that underlying arm control.

Keywords: hand; motor control; movement; neuroscience; rhesus macaque.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Motor Cortex / cytology*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.xsj3tx9cm