Diverse operant control of different motor cortex populations during learning

Current biology : CB(2021)

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During motor learning, as well as during neuroprosthetic learning, animals learn to control motor cortex activity in order to generate behavior. Two different population of motor cortex neurons, intra-telencephalic (IT) and pyramidal tract (PT) neurons, convey the resulting cortical signals within and outside the telencephalon. Although a large amount of evidence demonstrates contrasting functional organization among both populations, it is unclear whether the brain can equally learn to control the activity of either class of motor cortex neurons. To answer this question, we used a Calcium imaging based brain-machine interface (CaBMI) and trained different groups of mice to modulate the activity of either IT or PT neurons in order to receive a reward. We found that animals learn to control PT neuron activity faster and better than IT neuron activity. Moreover, our findings show that the advantage of PT neurons is the result of characteristics inherent to this population as well as their local circuitry and cortical depth location. Taken together, our results suggest that motor cortex is optimized to control the activity of pyramidal track neurons, embedded deep in cortex, and relaying motor commands outside of the telencephalon. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
motor cortex,pyramidal tract neurons,neuroprosthetics,brain-machine interfaces,operant control,neural circuits,operant learning
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