Electrical stimulation of the motor cortex in monkeys can evoke complex, multijoint movements including movements of the arm and hand. In this study, we examined these movements in detail and tested whether they showed adaptability to differing circumstances such as to a weight added to the hand. Electrical microstimulation was applied to motor cortex using pulse trains of 500-ms duration (matching the approximate duration of a reach). Arm movement was measured using a high-resolution three-dimensional tracking system. Movement latencies averaged 80.2 ms. Speed profiles were typically smooth and bell-shaped, and the peak speed covaried with movement distance. Stimulation generally evoked a specific final hand position. The convergence of the hand from disparate starting positions to a narrow range of final positions was statistically significant for every site tested (91/91). When a weight was fixed to the hand, for some stimulation sites (74%), the evoked movement appeared to compensate for the weight in that the hand was lifted to a similar final location. For other stimulation sites (26%), the weight caused a significant reduction in final hand height. For about one-half of the sites (54%), the variation in movement of each joint appeared to compensate for the variation in the other joints in a manner that stabilized the hand in a restricted region of space. These findings suggest that at least some of the stimulation-evoked movements reflect relatively high-level, adaptable motor plans.
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