Three-dimensional tuning profile of motor cortical activity during arm movements

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Abstract

The neural firing activity in the primary motor cortex was modulated to the direction of hand movement. In contradiction to previous reports, a recent study found a non-uniform distribution of preferred directions of neurons while monkeys made center-out reaching movements in a horizontal plane. To re-examine the distribution of preferred directions in three-dimensional space, we recorded the activity of 117 arm-related neurons in the primary motor cortex and electromyographic signals of shoulder and upper arm muscles of a monkey while it performed center-out reaching movements towards 26 target points placed on a sphere-shaped workspace. We found that the distribution of preferred directions of neurons was non-uniform and that it was correlated to muscle activity and arm joint rotations.

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