Cortical activity at different time scales: high-pass filtering separates motor planning and execution

David Eriksson, Mona Heiland, Artur Schneider, Ilka Diester

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17th April 20

The smooth conduction of movements requires simultaneous motor planning and execution according to internal goals. So far it is not known how such movement plans can be modified without being distorted by ongoing movements. Previous studies have isolated planning and execution related neuronal activity by separating behavioral planning and movement periods in time by sensory cues1–7. Here, we introduced two novel tasks in which motor planning developed intrinsically. We separated this continuous self-paced motor planning statistically from motor execution by experimentally minimizing the repetitiveness of the movements. Thereby, we found that in the rat sensorimotor cortex, neuronal motor planning processes evolved with slower dynamics than movement related responses both on a sorted unit and population level. The fast evolving neuronal activity preceded skilled forelimb movements while it coincided with movements in a locomotor task. We captured this fast evolving movement related activity via a high-pass filter approach and confirmed the results with optogenetic stimulations. As biological mechanism underlying such a high pass filtering we suggest neuronal adaption. The differences in dynamics combined with a high pass filtering mechanism represents a simple principle for concurrent motor planning and execution in which planning will result in relatively slow dynamics that will not produce movements.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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