Motor cortex guides selection of predictable movement targets

Philip Woodgate, Soeren Strauss, Saber Sami, Dietmar Heinke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
191 Downloads (Pure)


The present paper asks whether the motor cortex contributes to prediction-based guidance of target selection. This question was inspired by recent evidence that suggests (i) recurrent connections from the motor system into the attentional system may extract movement-relevant perceptual information and (ii) that the motor cortex cannot only generate predictions of the sensory consequences of movements but may also operate as predictor of perceptual events in general. To test this idea we employed a choice reaching task requiring participants to rapidly reach and touch a predictable or unpredictable colour target. Motor cortex activity was modulated via transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). In Experiment 1 target colour repetitions were predictable. Under such conditions anodal tDCS facilitated selection versus sham and cathodal tDCS. This improvement was apparent for trajectory curvature but not movement initiation. Conversely, where no predictability of colour was embedded reach performance was unaffected by tDCS. Finally, the results of a key-press experiment suggested that motor cortex involvement is restricted to tasks where the predictable target colour is movement-relevant. The outcomes are interpreted as evidence that the motor system contributes to the top-down guidance of selective attention to movement targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-246
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
Early online date30 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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