Sensorimotor cortex controls movement in part through direct projections to the spinal cord. Here we show that these corticospinal neurons (CSNs) possess axon collaterals that innervate many supraspinal brain regions critical for motor control, most prominently the main input to the basal ganglia, the striatum. Corticospinal neurons that innervate the striatum form more synapses on D1- than D2-striatal projection neurons (SPNs). This biased innervation strategy corresponds to functionally distinct patterns of termination in spinal cord. CSNs are strongly driven during a striatum-dependent sequential forelimb behavior, and often represent high level movement features that are not linearly related to kinematic output. Copies of these activity patterns are relayed in a balanced fashion to both D1 and D2 projection pathways. These results reveal a circuit logic by which motor cortex corticospinal neurons relay both kinematic-related and unrelated signals to distinct striatal and spinal cord pathways, where postsynaptic connectivity ultimately dictates motor specificity.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience