Neuronal Activity in the Supplementary Motor Area of Monkeys Adapting to A New Dynamic Environment

Camillo Padoa-Schioppa, Chiang Shan Ray Li, Emilio Bizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


To execute visually guided reaching movements, the central nervous system (CNS) must transform a desired hand trajectory (kinematics) into appropriate muscle-related commands (dynamics). It has been suggested that the CNS might face this challenging computation by using internal forward models for the dynamics. Previous work in humans found that new internal models can be acquired through experience. In a series of studies in monkeys, we investigated how neurons in the motor areas of the frontal lobe reflect the movement dynamics and how their activity changes when monkeys learn a new internal model. Here we describe the results for the supplementary motor area (SMA-proper, or SMA). In the experiments, monkeys executed visually guided reaching movements and adapted to an external perturbing force field. The experimental design allowed dissociating the neuronal activity related to movement dynamics from that related to movement kinematics. It also allowed dissociating the changes related to motor learning from the activity related to motor performance (kinematics and dynamics). We show that neurons in SMA reflect the movement dynamics individually and as a population, and that their activity undergoes a variety of plastic changes when monkeys adapt to a new dynamic environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-473
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


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