Rhythmically firing (20-50 Hz) neurons in monkey primary somatosensory cortex: Activity patterns during initiation of vibratory-cued hand movements

Michael A. Lebedev, Randall J. Nelson

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The activity patterns of rhythmically firing neurons in monkey primary somatosensory cortex (SI) were studied during trained wrist movements that were performed in response to palmar vibration. Of 1,222 neurons extracellularly recorded in SI, 129 cells (∼11%) discharged rhythmically (at ∼30 Hz) during maintained wrist position. During the initiation of vibratory-cued movements, neuronal activity usually decreased at ∼25 ms after vibration onset followed by an additional decrease in activity at ∼60 ms prior to movement onset. Rhythmically firing neurons are not likely to be integrate-and-fire neurons because, during activity changes, their rhythmic firing pattern was disrupted rather than modulated. The activity pattern of rhythmically firing neurons was complimentary to that of quickly adapting SI neurons recorded during the performance of this task (Nelson et al., 1991). Moreover, disruptions of rhythmic activity of individual SI neurons were similar to those reported previously for local field potential (LFP) oscillations in sensorimotor cortex during trained movements (Sanes and Donoghue, 1993). However, rhythmic activity of SI neurons did not wax and wane like LFP oscillations (Murthy and Fetz, 1992; Sanes and Donoghue, 1993). It has been suggested that fast (20-50 Hz) cortical oscillations may be initiated by inhibitory interneurons (Cowan and Wilson, 1994; Llinas et al., 1991; Stern and Wilson, 1994). We suggest that rhythmically firing neurons may tonically inhibit quickly adapting neurons and release them from the inhibition at go-cue onsets and prior to voluntary movements. It is possible that rhythmically active neurons may evoke intermittent oscillations in other cortical neurons and thus regulate cortical population oscillations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-334
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • hand movement
  • monkey
  • neuronal activity
  • rhythmic firing
  • somatosensory cortex
  • vibration


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