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Temporal scaling of motor cortical dynamics reveals hierarchical control of vocal production


Neocortical activity is thought to mediate voluntary control over vocal production, but the underlying neural mechanisms remain unclear. In a highly vocal rodent, the male Alston’s singing mouse, we investigate neural dynamics in the orofacial motor cortex (OMC), a structure critical for vocal behavior. We first describe neural activity that is modulated by component notes (~100 ms), probably representing sensory feedback. At longer timescales, however, OMC neurons exhibit diverse and often persistent premotor firing patterns that stretch or compress with song duration (~10 s). Using computational modeling, we demonstrate that such temporal scaling, acting through downstream motor production circuits, can enable vocal flexibility. These results provide a framework for studying hierarchical control circuits, a common design principle across many natural and artificial systems.


Arkarup Banerjee, Feng Chen, Shaul Druckmann, & Michael A. Long 

Published: 2024

PMID: 38291282



Research Area:

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience, Motor System, Computational Neuroscience