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The brain's executive is an 'event planner'

in between. This stepwise approach enabled the researchers to distinguish whether the lateral PFC neurons were active during planning the movements or planning the events that would result from those movements.

"We found that neurons in the lateral PFC exhibited substantial changes in activity during a preparatory period in which monkeys were required to plan multiple steps of motor behavior," concluded the researchers. "Neuronal activity during the preparatory period predominantly reflected intended (future) movements of a cursor along a particular path within a maze to reach an intended goal. All cursor movements that had to be prepared . . . to reach the goal were reflected by the activity of the PFC neurons. In contrast, very few PFC neurons (9%) reflected the intended arm movements during the preparatory period," they concluded.

"When we plan multiple steps of actions in daily life, we usually do so by consciously arranging future events that we expect to occur as the consequence of actions in a particular temporal order; we rarely consider the temporal sequence of motor actions themselves," wrote Mushiake and colleagues. "The properties of PFC neurons that we observed in the present study are compatible with behavioral planning based on future events.

"If we assume that planning for multiple movements in monkeys is analogous to that in humans, it follows that PFC neurons in the monkey brain process information for future events in a prospective manner to generate action plans based on a series of events during the course of reaching a behavioral goal," they wrote.


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Source:Cell Press


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