Temporal profile of the directional tuning of the discharge of dorsal premotor cortical cells

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This study examined the directional modulation of dorsal premotor (PMd) cells as a function of time in an instructed delay, reaching task that systematically varied direction and accuracy constraints. In two monkeys, the activity of 150 PMd cells was recorded and the preferred direction (PD) of the firing as a function of time, the PD trajectory, was calculated. Forty-one cells had nearly continuous significant directional tuning of at least 1 s duration (mean duration 1694 ± 754 ms) that began in the instructed delay period and continued into the movement period. The PD gradually changed in time (mean change of 47.7 ± 40.8°), a change best described as a rotation. The change in the directional tuning as a function of time is consistent with the hypothesis that the PMd plays a role in the non-standard mapping of sensory stimuli into motor commands.

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