1. The goal of this study was to investigate the motor organization of monkey nucleus interpositus (NI) and neighboring regions of the lateral nucleus (NL) by correlating discharge of single neurons with active movements. Neurons were surveyed during free-form movements as well as during operation of six devices that required movement about specific forelimb joints. The paradigm allowed us to test the hypothesis that discharge of individual cells relates to movements about individual joints. 2. One hundred sixty-two isolated nuclear neurons from two monkeys were studied. Eighty- three percent showed large increases in discharge (an average of 3 times resting rate for forelimb neurons) during movement of one body part, either forelimb, hindlimb, mouth/face, or eyes. 3. Anterior interpositus contains neurons related to hindlimb movement in anterior regions and neurons related to forelimb movement in posterior regions. A mouth/face-related area exists in the dorsal-posterior regions and is continuous with a mouth/face area in the dorsal regions of NL. Posterior interpositus (NIP) showed no clear separation between forelimb and hindlimb neurons: forelimb neurons were encountered throughout the nucleus, and hindlimb neurons were encountered in the medial-anterior two thirds. A distinct eye movement area exists in lateral, posterior, and ventral regions of NIP. This area borders regions of NL that also contain eye movement-related neurons. 4. Forelimb interpositus neurons discharged strongly during reach and grasp; discharge rates were recorded for 41 neurons during a stereotyped reach and the average depth of modulation was 149 imp/s. Nineteen neurons that modulated during device tracking were also tested during reaching, and the depth of modulation was much greater during reaching. 5. Fifty-nine forelimb neurons were tested with device tracking. Twenty-seven (46%) produced no audible modulation, regardless of the joint being exercised. The remaining 32 neurons modulated during movement on at least one device (mean depth of modulation = 84 imp/s). Comparison of discharge during use of different devices revealed no strong evidence for device-specific discharge. 6. Discharge modulations during device tracking were phasic, preceded movement, and, for a small number of cells, showed consistent parametric relations to duration, amplitude, and velocity of movement. 7. Despite a clear somatotopy within NI and NL, there is no finer mapping based on active movements about individual joints within forelimb regions. Discharge modulation depends on movements involving the whole limb. Progress in understanding the function of intermediate cerebellum depends on determining the variables required to elicit consistent and high modulation of neural discharge. A reach and grasp produces such modulation: further analysis of this complex motor task will be useful.
ASJC Scopus subject areas