Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2016

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Mark S. Blumberg


Nervous systems distinguish between self- and other-generated movements by monitoring discrepancies between planned and performed actions. To do so, when motor systems transmit motor commands to muscles, they simultaneously transmit motor copies, or corollary discharges, to sensory areas. There, corollary discharge signals are compared to sensory feedback arising from movements (reafference), which can result in gating of expected feedback. Curiously, in infant rats, twitches—which are self-generated movements produced exclusively and abundantly during active sleep (AS)—differ from wake-movements in that they trigger robust neural activity. Accordingly, we hypothesized that the gating actions of corollary discharge that predict wake reafference are suspended during twitching. In this dissertation, we first demonstrate that twitches, but not wake movements, robustly activate sensorimotor cortex as they do other brain areas. Next, we demonstrate that wake movements can activate the sensorimotor cortex under conditions involving presumed discrepancies between corollary discharge and reafference signals. Lastly, we reveal a neural mechanism in the brainstem that inhibits reafference, but only during wakefulness; this inhibitory mechanism is suppressed during active sleep. All together, our findings provide the first demonstration of a state-dependent neural comparator of planned and performed actions, one that permits the transmission of sensory feedback from self-generated twitches to the developing nervous system.


corollary discharge, development, reafference, REM sleep, sensorimotor, twitch


viii, 81 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 75-81).


Copyright © 2016 Alexandre Tiriac

Included in

Psychology Commons