Study Shows Environmental Cues Can Trigger Planned Movement
Although, in general, motor behavior is planned at an earlier time before it is executed, it is released only after specific sensory cues. Recent research aims to discover how those cues can activate planned movement.
One of the lead researchers of the study, Dr. Inagaki, believes the way people behave depends on the combined activities of neurons in the brain. For instance, the motor cortex is responsible for controlling movement. The patterns of the activities in this area of the brain between the phases of planning and executing movement are not equal, and the shift between these patterns is essential to activate movement.
The researchers noted the neuronal activity of a mouse. At the same time, it executed a movement that was activated by a cue to determine the neural circuit responsible for initiating a planned movement. In the course of the assignment, the mice were supposed to perform a movement only after a” go” cue, and they would receive an award if they executed the movement at the right time. This approach aimed to teach mice to perform planned movements only after planning the course of their movements.
The research team discovered activities in the brain soon after the “go” cue and during the shift between planning and executing movement phases. The actions in the brain were caused by a circuit of neurons in specific brain areas. The researchers examined whether the circuit acts as a conductor by using a technique that controls the activity of neurons with light, which enabled them to trigger or deactivate the circuit. Triggering the circuit during the planning stage caused a shift in the neural actions, which changed from planning the movements to executing them. On the contrary, the deactivating of the circuit at the same time as performing the “go” cue can stop a cue-triggered movement.
The study’s authors suggest the results show characteristics of behavioral control that are capable of being generalized. Nevertheless, they call for further research on the function of the circuit in the brain responsible for the activity of the neurons to understand better how this circuit alters various brain areas.
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