Monkeys were trained to make a visually triggered arm-reaching movement to a lighted button in a simple reaction-time paradigm, during which the reaction time (RT) and movement time (MT) were measured. Stimulus trains of varying duration were applied at various times before and during the movement at locations in the globus pallidus where application of long stimulus trains caused increased MTs. A critical stimulus period was identified during which stimulus application effectively prolonged MTs. The activity of pallidal neurons was examined during performance of the same behavioral task. More than 60% of the neurons examined showed task-related changes in activity that began before or during the reaching movement. For 45% of these cells, the initial change in firing occurred during the critical stimulus period, 50-150 ms before mechanically detected movement. Comparison of the critical stimulus period, the time of task-related changes in the discharge of pallidal neurons, and the time of EMG activity in muscles acting at the back, shoulder, elbow, and wrist revealed that both the critical stimulus period and changes in neuronal discharge occurred at or after initial muscle activation and during the buildup of EMG activity. These data are consistent with a model in which the globus pallidus plays a role in scaling the magnitude of muscle activity that determines movement velocity without affecting the initiation or sequential organization of the programmed motor output.
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