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Ready, Set…Go! Brain Circuit That Triggers the Execution of Planned Movement Discovered

Published in Brain/Neurology, Circuits.

Summary: Researchers have identified a neural circuit that helps suppress the execution of planned actions in response to specific cues.

Source: Max Planck Florida

Planned movement is essential to our daily lives, and it often requires delayed execution. As children, we stood crouched and ready but waited for the shout of “GO!” before sprinting from the starting line. As adults, we wait until the traffic light turns green before making a turn. In both situations, the brain has planned our precise movements but suppresses their execution until a specific cue (e.g., the shout of “GO!” or the green light).

Now, scientists have discovered the brain network that turns plans into action in response to this cue.

The discovery, published in the scientific journal Cell, results from a collaboration of scientists at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and others. Led by co-first authors Dr. Hidehiko Inagaki and Dr. Susu Chen and senior author Dr. Karel Svoboda, the scientists set out to understand how cues in our environment can trigger planned movement.

“The brain is like an orchestra,” said Dr. Inagaki. “In a symphony, instruments play diverse tunes with different tempos and timbres. The collective of these sounds shapes a musical phrase. Similarly, neurons in the brain are active with diverse patterns and timing. The ensemble of neuronal activities mediates specific aspects of our behavior.”