The endpoint accuracy of a reaching movement strongly affects kinematics, particularly during the final phases of movement. However, where and how accuracy is represented in the central nervous system remains unknown. In this study, the discharge of 150 neurons located primarily in the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), were recorded from monkeys performing an instructed delay, centre-out reaching task in which movement direction and target size were systematically varied. Linear regression analyses were used to assess the dependence of movement kinematics and cell discharge on target direction, size and tangential velocity (i.e. speed). The speed and timing of the movement were dependent on both direction and target size. Initially direction was the dominant predictor whilst target size became more important as the hand reached the target. A temporal multiple linear regression analysis found significant correlations with target size in 99 of 150 cells. The discharge of 134 cells was directionally tuned and 83 cells modulated with mean speed. Significant correlations of discharge with target size occurred throughout the task as did correlations with direction. However, correlations with direction preferentially occurred early in the task, prior to movement onset, whilst correlations with target size tended to occur late, well after movement onset. This temporal dependency of the firing in relationship to target direction and size mirrored that observed for the kinematics. We conclude that the discharge of PMd cells is highly correlated with the accuracy requirement of the movement. The timing of the correlations suggest that accuracy information is available for the planning and for the on-line control of endpoint accuracy.
- Temporal parcellation