Cortical planning activity has traditionally been probed with visual targets. However, external sensory signals might obscure early correlates of internally generated plans. We devised a non-spatial decision-making task, in which the monkey is encouraged to randomly decide whether to reach or saccade, in the absence of sensory stimuli. Neurons in frontal and parietal planning areas (in and around the arcuate and intraparietal sulci) showed responses predictive of the monkey's upcoming movement at early stages during the planning process. Neurons predicted the animal's future movements several seconds beforehand, sometimes before the trial even began. These data cast new light on the role of the cerebral cortex in the action planning process, when the animal is free to decide on his own actions in the absence of extraneous sensory cues.
- Copyright © 2014, Journal of Neurophysiology