Looking and reaching are controlled by different brain regions and are coordinated during natural behaviour1. Understanding how flexible, natural behaviours such as coordinated looking and reaching are controlled depends on understanding how neurons in different regions of the brain communicate2. Neural coherence in a gamma-frequency (40–90 Hz) band has been implicated in excitatory multiregional communication3. Inhibitory control mechanisms are also required to flexibly control behaviour4, but little is known about how neurons in one region transiently suppress individual neurons in another to support behaviour. How neuronal firing in a sender region transiently suppresses firing in a receiver region remains poorly understood. Here we study inhibitory communication during a flexible, natural behaviour, termed gaze anchoring, in which saccades are transiently inhibited by coordinated reaches. During gaze anchoring, we found that neurons in the reach region of the posterior parietal cortex can inhibit neuronal firing in the parietal saccade region to suppress eye movements and improve reach accuracy. Suppression is transient, only present around the coordinated reach, and greatest when reach neurons fire spikes with respect to beta-frequency (15–25 Hz) activity, not gamma-frequency activity. Our work provides evidence in the activity of single neurons for a novel mechanism of inhibitory communication in which beta-frequency neural coherence transiently inhibits multiregional communication to flexibly coordinate natural behaviour.
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