Temporary inactivation in the primate motor thalamus during visually triggered and internally generated limb movements.
van Donkelaar P., Stein JF., Passingham RE., Miall RC.
To better understand the contribution of cerebellar- and basal ganglia-receiving areas of the thalamus [ventral posterolateral nucleus, pars oralis (VPLo), area X, ventral lateral nucleus, pars oralis (VLo), or ventral anterior nucleus, pars parvicellularis (VApc)] to movements based on external versus internal cues, we temporarily inactivated these individual nuclei in two monkeys trained to make visually triggered (VT) and internally generated (IG) limb movements. Infusions of lignocaine centered within VPLo caused hemiplegia during which movements of the contralateral arm rarely were performed in either task for a short period of time ( approximately 5-30 min). When VT responses were produced, they had prolonged reaction times and movement times and a higher incidence of trajectory abnormalities compared with responses produced during the preinfusion baseline period. In contrast, those IG responses that were produced remained relatively normal. Infusions centered within area X never caused hemiplegia. The only deficits observed were an increase in reaction time and movement amplitude variability and a higher incidence of trajectory abnormalities during VT trials. Every other aspect of both the VT and IG movements remained unchanged. Infusions centered within VLo reduced the number of movements attempted during each block of trials. This did not appear to be due to hemiplegia, however, as voluntary movements easily could be elicited outside of the trained tasks. The other main deficit resulting from inactivation of VLo was an increased reaction time in the VT task. Finally, infusions centered within VApc caused IG movements to become slower and smaller in amplitude, whereas VT movements remained unchanged. Control infusions with saline did not cause any consistent deficits. This pattern of results implies that VPLo and VLo play a role in the production of movements in general regardless of the context under which they are performed. They also suggest that VPLo contributes more specifically to the execution of movements that are visually triggered and guided, whereas area X contributes specifically to the initiation of such movements. In contrast, VApc appears to play a role in the execution of movements based on internal cues. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that specific subcircuits within the cerebello- and basal ganglio-thalamo-cortical systems preferentially contribute to movements based on external versus internal cues.