Apr 4, 2020

Multi-dimensional tuning in motor cortical neurons during active behavior

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Rachel C Yuan, Sarah W Bottjer


A region within songbird cortex, AId (dorsal intermediate arcopallium), is functionally analogous to motor cortex in mammals and has been implicated in vocal learning during development. AId thus serves as a powerful model for investigating motor cortical contributions to developmental skill learning. We made extracellular recordings in AId of freely behaving juvenile zebra finches and evaluated neural activity during diverse motor behaviors throughout entire recording sessions, including song production as well as hopping, pecking, preening, fluff-ups, beak interactions with cage objects, scratching, and stretching. A large population of single neurons showed significant modulation of activity during singing relative to quiescence. In addition, AId neurons demonstrated heterogeneous response patterns that were evoked during multiple movements, with single neurons often demonstrating excitation during one movement type and suppression during another. Lesions of AId do not disrupt vocal motor output or impair generic movements, suggesting that the responses observed during active behavior do not reflect direct motor drive. Consistent with this idea, we found that some AId neurons showed differential activity during pecking movem...Continue Reading

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