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We determined the response properties of neurons in the primate medial premotor cortex that were classified as sensory or motor during isochronous tapping to a visual or auditory metronome, using different target intervals and three sequential elements in the task. The cell classification was based on a warping transformation, which determined whether the cell activity was statistically aligned to sensory or motor events, finding a large proportion of cells classified as sensory or motor. Two distinctive clusters of sensory cells were observed, i.e. one cell population with short response-onset latencies to the previous stimulus, and another that was probably predicting the occurrence of the next stimuli. These cells were called sensory-driven and stimulus-predicting neurons, respectively. Sensory-driven neurons showed a clear bias towards the visual modality and were more responsive to the first stimulus, with a decrease in activity for the following sequential elements of the metronome. In contrast, stimulus-predicting neurons were bimodal and showed similar response profiles across serial-order elements. Motor cells showed a consecutive activity onset across discrete neural ensembles, generating a rapid succession of activation patterns between the two taps defining a produced interval. The cyclical configuration in activation profiles engaged more motor cells as the serial-order elements progressed across the task, and the rate of cell recruitment over time decreased as a function of the target interval. Our findings support the idea that motor cells were responsible for the rhythmic progression of taps in the task, gaining more importance as the trial advanced, while, simultaneously, the sensory-driven cells lost their functional impact.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Neurosci

Publication Date





586 - 602


medial premotor areas, rhesus monkeys, sensorimotor integration, timing mechanism, Animals, Auditory Perception, Macaca mulatta, Male, Motor Cortex, Reaction Time, Sensory Receptor Cells, Visual Perception