Movement sequences, defined both by the component movements and by the serial order in which they are produced, are fundamental building blocks of motor behavior. The serial order of sequence production is strongly encoded in medial motor areas. It is not known to what extent sequences are further elaborated or encoded in primary motor cortex. Here, we describe cells in the primary motor cortex of the monkey that show anticipatory activity exclusively related to a specific memorized sequence of upcoming movements. In addition, the injection of muscimol, a GABA agonist, into motor cortex resulted in an increase in the error rate during sequence production, without concomitant effects on nonsequenced motor performance. Our results challenge the role of medial motor areas in the control of well-practiced movement sequences and suggest that motor cortex contains a complete apparatus for the planning and production of this complex behavior.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by NIH award NS42278 and the Brain Sciences Chair. We thank Bing Chen for assistance with part of the experiment and Matt Gregas for statistical advice.