It was shown previously that peripherally administered antagonists of the central 1 M-cholinoreceptors led to a selective impairment of bar-pressing response in a food-reinforced operant conditioned task but did not alter contextual behavior and functions such as motivation, perception, and locomotion. To obtain information about the central mechanisms of the conditioning impairment, we recorded simultaneously the extracellular multiunit activity from the frontal and motor neocortical areas of five cats trained to acquisition criteria in a food-reinforced operant conditioning task. Multiunit recordings were performed drur 1) normal conditioning; 2) conditioning during subcutaneous administration of muscarinic antagonists scopolamine (0.03 mg/kg), trihexyphenidyl (1 mg/kg), and methylscopolamine (0.03 mg/kg). Autocorrelation analysis showed that scopolamine and trihexyphenidyl but not methylscopolamine led to a significant increase in the tendency of cortical cells to fire in a cyclic way (i.e., the shift of the firing pattern from a single-spike discharge to burst, rhythmic, or rhythmic-burst discharge) both in the motor and frontal areas. Cross-correlation analysis showed that the bursting and rhythmic-bursting cells synchronized their activity within and (in a number of cases) between the cortical areas. These changes in the neuronal activity within the motor cortex and frontal cortex were accompanied by a significant decrease in the functional connectivity both inside and between the cortical areas in parallel with selective impairment of the conditioned response.