Movement Initiation Signals in Mouse Whisker Motor Cortex

Varun Sreenivasan, Vahid Esmaeili, Taro Kiritani, Katia Galan, Sylvain Crochet, Carl C.H. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
318 Downloads (Pure)


Summary Frontal cortex plays a central role in the control of voluntary movements, which are typically guided by sensory input. Here, we investigate the function of mouse whisker primary motor cortex (wM1), a frontal region defined by dense innervation from whisker primary somatosensory cortex (wS1). Optogenetic stimulation of wM1 evokes rhythmic whisker protraction (whisking), whereas optogenetic inactivation of wM1 suppresses initiation of whisking. Whole-cell membrane potential recordings and silicon probe recordings of action potentials reveal layer-specific neuronal activity in wM1 at movement initiation, and encoding of fast and slow parameters of movements during whisking. Interestingly, optogenetic inactivation of wS1 caused hyperpolarization and reduced firing in wM1, together with reduced whisking. Optogenetic stimulation of wS1 drove activity in wM1 with complex dynamics, as well as evoking long-latency, wM1-dependent whisking. Our results advance understanding of a well-defined frontal region and point to an important role for sensory input in controlling motor cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1368-1382
Number of pages15
Issue number6
Early online date21 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2016


  • motor cortex
  • whisker motor control
  • movement initiation
  • motor coding
  • sensorimotor integration
  • optogenetics
  • whole-cell recording
  • membrane potential
  • multisite silicon probe recording
  • action potential


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