Patterns of spatio-temporal correlations in the neural activity of the cat motor cortex during trained forelimb movements
AbstractIn order to study how neurons in the primary motor cortex (MI) are dynamically linked together during skilled movement, we recorded simultaneously from many cortical neurons in cats trained to perform a reaching and retrieval task using their forelimbs. Analysis of task-related spike activity in the MI of the hemisphere contralateral to the reaching forelimb (in identified forelimb or hindlimb representations) recorded through chronically implanted microwires, was followed by pairwise evaluation of temporally correlated activity in these neurons during task performance using shuffle corrected cross-correlograms. Over many months of recording, a variety of task-related modulations of neural activities were observed in individual efferent zones. Positively correlated activity (mainly narrow peaks at zero or short latencies) was seen during task performance frequently between neurons recorded within the forelimb representation of MI, rarely within the hindlimb area of MI, and never between forelimb and hindlimb areas. Correlated activity was frequently observed between neurons with different patterns of task-related activity or preferential activity during different task elements (reaching, feeding, etc.), and located in efferent zones with dissimilar representation as defined by intracortical microstimulation. The observed synchronization of action potentials among selected but functionally varied groups of MI neurons possibly reflects dynamic recruitment of network connections between efferent zones during skilled movement.