The motor cortex not only executes but also prepares movement, as motor cortical neurons exhibit preparatory activity that predicts upcoming movements. In movement preparation, animals adopt different strategies in response to uncertainties existing in nature such as the unknown timing of when a predator will attack—an environmental cue informing “go.” However, how motor cortical neurons cope with such uncertainties is less understood. In this study, we aim to investigate whether and how preparatory activity is altered depending on the predictability of “go” timing. We analyze firing activities of the anterior lateral motor cortex in male mice during two auditory delayed-response tasks each with predictable or unpredictable go timing. When go timing is unpredictable, preparatory activities immediately reach and stay in a neural state capable of producing movement anytime to a sudden go cue. When go timing is predictable, preparation activity reaches the movement-producible state more gradually, to secure more accurate decisions. Surprisingly, this preparation process entails a longer reaction time. We find that as preparatory activity increases in accuracy, it takes longer for a neural state to transition from the end of preparation to the start of movement. Our results suggest that the motor cortex fine-tunes preparatory activity for more accurate movement using the predictability of go timing.

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This post is Copyright: Chae, S., Sohn, J.-w., Kim, S.-P. | February 22, 2024
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