1. Neuroscience
Download icon

Gating of reafference in the external cuneate nucleus during self-generated movements in wake but not sleep

  1. Alexandre Tiriac
  2. Mark S Blumberg  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of California, Berkeley, United States
  2. The University of Iowa, United States
Short Report
  • Cited 22
  • Views 951
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e18749 doi: 10.7554/eLife.18749


Nervous systems distinguish between self- and other-generated movements by monitoring discrepancies between planned and performed actions. To do so, corollary discharges are conveyed to sensory areas and gate expected reafference. Such gating is observed in neonatal rats during wake-related movements. In contrast, twitches, which are self-generated movements produced during active (or REM) sleep, differ from wake movements in that they reliably trigger robust neural activity. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the gating actions of corollary discharge are absent during twitching. Here, we identify the external cuneate nucleus (ECN), which processes sensory input from the forelimbs, as a site of movement-dependent sensory gating during wake. Whereas pharmacological disinhibition of the ECN unmasked wake-related reafference, twitch-related reafference was unaffected. This is the first demonstration of a neural comparator that is differentially engaged depending on the kind of movement produced. This mechanism explains how twitches, though self-generated, trigger abundant reafferent activation of sensorimotor circuits in the developing brain.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Alexandre Tiriac

    Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Mark S Blumberg

    Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-6969-2955


National Institutes of Health (R37-HD081168)

  • Mark S Blumberg

National Institutes of Health (R01-HD063071)

  • Mark S Blumberg

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All experiments were carried out in accordance with the National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (NIH Publication No. 80-23) and were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Iowa (protocol numbers 1202054 and 1403038).

Reviewing Editor

  1. David Kleinfeld, University of California, San Diego, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: June 13, 2016
  2. Accepted: July 29, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 3, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 23, 2016 (version 2)


© 2016, Tiriac & Blumberg

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


  • 951
    Page views
  • 262
  • 22

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Scopus, Crossref, PubMed Central.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)