Properties of visual cue responses in primate precentral cortex
Review articleOpen access

AbstractMonkeys were trained to perform a visuomotor task involving the alignment of a cursor over a vertical target line on a videomonitor by flexion or extension movements of the wrist. The forelimb area of the contralateral precentral cortex was thoroughly explored during the task. Intracortical microstimulation was employed to classify the forelimb region into wrist flexion-extension and non-wrist flexion-extension populations. Unit recording revealed an initial response to the cue for movement, viz. the appearance of the cursor and target line on the videomonitor, while visual signals not related to the task failed to evoke any response. The mean latency of these visual cue responses was approximately 150 ms. A great majority of the responses (96%) were bidirectional in character, in that they did not correlate with the directional information embedded in the visual cue, nor were they good predictors for the direction or timing of the subsequent movement. They were uniformly distributed in both the wrist and non-wrist regions of the forelimb area; the non-forelimb areas were devoid of the cue response. Further, when the variability of response to the visual cue for the wrist and non-wrist populations was compared, no significant difference was observed. These observations are consistent with an interpretation that the visually triggered cue responses provide a generalized activation over the task-related area of precentral cortex, paving the way for later and more specific activations leading to the execution of the task.

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