Injecting instructions into premotor cortex

Authors: Mazurek et al


The premotor cortex (PM) receives inputs from parietal cortical areas representing processed visuospatial information, translates that information into programs for particular movements, and communicates those programs to the primary motor cortex (M1) for execution. Consistent with this general function, intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) in the PM of sufficient frequency, amplitude, and duration has been shown to evoke complex movements of the arm and hand that vary systematically depending on the locus of stimulation. Using frequencies and amplitudes too low to evoke muscle activity, however, we found that ICMS in the PM can provide instructions to perform specific reach, grasp, and manipulate movements. These instructed actions were not fixed but rather were learned through associations between the arbitrary stimulation locations and particular movements. Low-amplitude ICMS at different PM locations thus evokes distinguishable experiences that can become associated with specific movements arbitrarily, providing a novel means of injecting information into the nervous system.

Source: Neuron; 2017