Pronounced activity is observed in both hemispheres of the motor cortex during preparation and execution of unimanual movements. The organizational principles of bi-hemispheric signals and the functions they serve throughout motor planning remain unclear. Using an instructed-delay reaching task in monkeys, we identified two components in population responses spanning PMd and M1. A "localized" component, which confined activity within arm-specific sub-populations, emerged in PMd during preparation. It was most prominent following movement when M1 became strongly engaged, and principally involved the contralateral hemisphere. In contrast to recent reports, these localized signals solely accounted for divergence of arm-specific neural subspaces. The other "distributed" component mixed signals for each arm within units, and the subspace containing it did not discriminate between arms at any stage. The statistics of the population response suggest two functional layers of the cortical network: one spanning hemispheres supporting preparatory and ongoing processes, and another specifying unilateral output.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience