Properties of primary motor cortex output to forelimb muscles in rhesus macaques

Michael C. Park, Abderraouf Belhaj-Saïf, Paul D. Cheney

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Stimulus-triggered averaging (StTA) of electromyographic (EMG) activity from 24 simultaneously recorded forelimb muscles was used to investigate properties of primary motor cortex (M1) output in the macaque monkey. Two monkeys were trained to perform a reach-to-grasp task requiring multijoint coordination of the forelimb. EMG activity was recorded from 24 forelimb muscles including 5 shoulder, 7 elbow, 5 wrist, 5 digit, and 2 intrinsic hand muscles. Microstimulation (15 μA at 15 Hz) was delivered throughout the movement task. From 297 stimulation sites in M1, a total of 2,079 poststimulus effects (PStE) were obtained including 1,398 poststimulus facilitation (PStF) effects and 681 poststimulus suppression (PStS) effects. Of the PStF effects, 60% were in distal and 40% in proximal muscles; 43% were of extensors and 47% flexors. For PStS, the corresponding numbers were 55 and 45% and 36 and 55%, respectively. M1 output effects showed extensive cofacilitation of proximal and distal muscles (96 sites, 42%) including 47 sites that facilitated at least one shoulder, elbow, and distal muscle, 45 sites that facilitated an elbow muscle and a distal muscle, and 22 sites that facilitated at least one muscle at all joints. The muscle synergies represented by outputs from these sites may serve an important role in the production of coordinated, multijoint movements. M1 output effects showed many similarities with red nucleus output although red nucleus effects were generally weaker and showed a strong bias toward facilitation of extensor muscles and a greater tendency to facilitate synergies involving muscles at non-contiguous joints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2968-2984
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2004


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