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Fluent retrieval and execution of movement sequences is essential for daily activities, but the neural mechanisms underlying sequence planning remain elusive. Here participants learned finger press sequences with different orders and timings and reproduced them in a magneto-encephalography (MEG) scanner. We classified the MEG patterns for each press in the sequence and examined pattern dynamics during preparation and production. Our results demonstrate the "competitive queuing" (CQ) of upcoming action representations, extending previous computational and non-human primate recording studies to non-invasive measures in humans. In addition, we show that CQ reflects an ordinal template that generalizes across specific motor actions at each position. Finally, we demonstrate that CQ predicts participants' production accuracy and originates from parahippocampal and cerebellar sources. These results suggest that the brain learns and controls multiple sequences by flexibly combining representations of specific actions and interval timing with high-level, parallel representations of sequence position.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1180.e3
Number of pages15
JournalNeuron
Volume101
Issue number6
Early online date7 Feb 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019

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