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J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 21;30(29):9659-69. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5443-09.2010.

Decoding complete reach and grasp actions from local primary motor cortex populations.

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Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


How the activity of populations of cortical neurons generates coordinated multijoint actions of the arm, wrist, and hand is poorly understood. This study combined multielectrode recording techniques with full arm motion capture to relate neural activity in primary motor cortex (M1) of macaques (Macaca mulatta) to arm, wrist, and hand postures during movement. We find that the firing rate of individual M1 neurons is typically modulated by the kinematics of multiple joints and that small, local ensembles of M1 neurons contain sufficient information to reconstruct 25 measured joint angles (representing an estimated 10 functionally independent degrees of freedom). Beyond showing that the spiking patterns of local M1 ensembles represent a rich set of naturalistic movements involving the entire upper limb, the results also suggest that achieving high-dimensional reach and grasp actions with neuroprosthetic devices may be possible using small intracortical arrays like those already being tested in human pilot clinical trials.

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