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Somatosensory Cortex Activity Related To Position And Force

V. A. Jennings, Y. Lamour, H. Solis, C. Fromm

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1. The relation of somatosensory cortex (SI) neuronal activity to actively maintained limb posture was examined by recording from single neurons in the SI of monkeys trained to hold the forearm at different pronation-supination postures and to exert different directions and magnitudes of steady torque. 2. Neurons related to limb position were, in most cases (89%), also related to torque exerted by the limb. Very few neurons related to only position or only torque were found. 3. Two categories of position- and torque-related neurons were found, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 eurneuronal activity resembled the pattern of activity seen in the pronator and supinator muscles; neurons more active with supinating torque also became more active with supinated position, while neurons related to pronating torque were also related to pronated position. Type 2 neurons had a noncongruent relation to position and torque; neurons more active with supinating torque became more active with pronated position, while neurons related to pronating torque were related to supinated position. 4. Position- and torque-related neurons were characterized by having predominantly noncutaneous peripheral inputs and were concentrated in two SI regions identified as area 3a and area 2. 5. It is hypothesized that during actively held limb postures, the activity of the type 1 and type 2 neuronal populations in SI is sufficient to signal uniquely the steady-state position of the limb and the force exerted by the limb.