Mirror Neurons are Modulated by Reward Expectation and Grip Force in the Sensorimotor Cortices (S1, M1, PMd, PMv)
Mirror Neurons (MN) respond similarly when primates make, or observe, grasping movements. Recent work indicates that reward expectation influences M1 during manual, observational, and Brain Machine Interface (BMI) reaching movements. Previous work showed MN are modulated by subjective value. Here we expand on the above work utilizing two non-human primates (NHPs), one male Macaca Radiata (NHP S) and one female Macaca Mulatta (NHP P), that were trained to perform a cued reward level isometric grip force task, where the NHPs had to apply visually cued grip force to move and transport a virtual object. We found a population of (S1, M1, PMd, PMv) units that significantly represented grip force during manual and observational trials. We found the neural representation of visually cued force was similar during observational trials and manual trials for the same units, however, the representation was weaker during observational trials. Comparing changes in neural time lags between manual and observational tasks indicated that a subpopulation fit the standard MN definition of observational neural activity lagging the visual information. Neural activity in (S1, M1, PMd, PMv) significantly represented force and reward expectation. In summary, we present results indicating that sensorimotor cortices have MN for visually cued force and value.