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J Neurosci. 2005 Nov 16;25(46):10712-6.

Stable ensemble performance with single-neuron variability during reaching movements in primates.

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Department of Neurobiology, Center for Neuroengineering, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Significant variability in firing properties of individual neurons was observed while two monkeys, chronically implanted with multielectrode arrays in frontal and parietal cortical areas, performed a continuous arm movement task. Although the degree of correlation between the firing of single neurons and movement parameters was nonstationary, stable predictions of arm movements could be obtained from the activity of neuronal ensembles. This result adds support to the idea that movement parameters are redundantly encoded in the motor cortex, such that brain networks can achieve the same behavioral goals through different patterns and relative contribution of individual neuron activity. This has important implications for neural prosthetics, suggesting that accurate operation of a brain-machine interface requires recording from large neuronal ensembles to minimize the effect of variability and ensuring stable performance over long periods of time.

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