Self-initiated movements

How does our brain direct our behavior? 

Let's narrow the question down to something measurable: can brain activity drive a movement? A necessary condition would be to find brain activity that precedes a movement before the muscles start contracting. 

Below we see activity from two  individual neurons whose activity starts  a few seconds before the movement a monkey makes to get a piece of apple. The muscle recordings underneath the neuronal activity show that the carefully trained and monitored monkey is relaxed and initiates each movement anew. 

The graph shows two different neurons recording ion the frontal cortex (left) and the putamen, which is a part of the basal ganglia. The two brain structures are closely interconnected. View the reports here (Romo & Schultz 1992) and here (Schultz & Romo 1992).