Motor Planning Modulates Neural Activity Patterns in Early Human Auditory Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2021 May 10;31(6):2952-2967. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhaa403.


It is well established that movement planning recruits motor-related cortical brain areas in preparation for the forthcoming action. Given that an integral component to the control of action is the processing of sensory information throughout movement, we predicted that movement planning might also modulate early sensory cortical areas, readying them for sensory processing during the unfolding action. To test this hypothesis, we performed 2 human functional magnetic resonance imaging studies involving separate delayed movement tasks and focused on premovement neural activity in early auditory cortex, given the area's direct connections to the motor system and evidence that it is modulated by motor cortex during movement in rodents. We show that effector-specific information (i.e., movements of the left vs. right hand in Experiment 1 and movements of the hand vs. eye in Experiment 2) can be decoded, well before movement, from neural activity in early auditory cortex. We find that this motor-related information is encoded in a separate subregion of auditory cortex than sensory-related information and is present even when movements are cued visually instead of auditorily. These findings suggest that action planning, in addition to preparing the motor system for movement, involves selectively modulating primary sensory areas based on the intended action.

Keywords: action; auditory; grasping; motor; planning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't