Neuronal activity of primate putamen during categorical perception of somaesthetic stimuli

Neuroreport. 1995 May 9;6(7):1013-7. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199505090-00016.


We have studied neuronal activity in the putamen of two monkeys trained to discriminate the speed of moving tactile stimuli. Animals pressed one of two target switches to indicate whether the speed of the probe across the skin was low or high. The activity of single neurones was recorded in the putamen ipsilateral to the glabrous skin of the stimulated hand and contralateral to the responding arm. During the task, we recorded neurones in the putamen that showed responses confined exclusively to the stimulus period of all speeds. A second class of putamen neurones responded during the stimulus period but continued discharging during the reaction and movement time period. None of these two classes of putamen neurones discharged when the same set of stimuli were delivered passively. A third class of putamen neurones responded differentially in the discrimination task and predicted whether the speed of the stimulus was low or high. A number of these neurones, which responded differentially during the categorization task, were tested in a light instruction task. This tested the possibility that these differential responses were associated with the intention to move the arm to one of the two target switches. Few neurones responded in this situation. These results indicate that the putamen, in addition to its role in motor regulation, is also involved in higher order aspects of sensory-motor behaviour and in the sensory decision process in this learned somaesthetic task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arm / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Putamen / cytology
  • Putamen / physiology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena
  • Touch / physiology*