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From thought to action: The brain–machine interface in posterior parietal cortex

Andersen, Richard A. and Aflalo, Tyson and Kellis, Spencer (2019) From thought to action: The brain–machine interface in posterior parietal cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (52). pp. 26274-26279. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC6936686. doi:10.1073/pnas.1902276116.

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A dramatic example of translational monkey research is the development of neural prosthetics for assisting paralyzed patients. A neuroprosthesis consists of implanted electrodes that can record the intended movement of a paralyzed part of the body, a computer algorithm that decodes the intended movement, and an assistive device such as a robot limb or computer that is controlled by these intended movement signals. This type of neuroprosthetic system is also referred to as a brain–machine interface (BMI) since it interfaces the brain with an external machine. In this review, we will concentrate on BMIs in which microelectrode recording arrays are implanted in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC), a high-level cortical area in both humans and monkeys that represents intentions to move. This review will first discuss the basic science research performed in healthy monkeys that established PPC as a good source of intention signals. Next, it will describe the first PPC implants in human patients with tetraplegia from spinal cord injury. From these patients the goals of movements could be quickly decoded, and the rich number of action variables found in PPC indicates that it is an appropriate BMI site for a very wide range of neuroprosthetic applications. We will discuss research on learning to use BMIs in monkeys and humans and the advances that are still needed, requiring both monkey and human research to enable BMIs to be readily available in the clinic.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription CentralArticle ItemComplete program and video recordings of most presentations
Andersen, Richard A.0000-0002-7947-0472
Kellis, Spencer0000-0002-5158-1058
Additional Information:© 2019 The Author(s). Published under the PNAS license. Edited by Robert H. Wurtz, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, and approved July 25, 2019 (received for review February 28, 2019). We wish to thank participants E.G.S., N.S., L.D., F.G., and J.J. for their work and dedication, Kelsie Pejsa for administrative assistance, and Viktor Shcherbatyuk for technical assistance. We thank the NIH, the NSF, the Department of Defense, the T&C Chen Institute, the Boswell Foundation, and the Swartz Foundation for support. Author contributions: R.A.A., T.A., and S.K. designed research; T.A. and S.K. performed research; T.A. and S.K. analyzed data; and R.A.A., T.A., and S.K. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This paper results from the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, “Using Monkey Models to Understand and Develop Treatments for Human Brain Disorders,” held January 7–8, 2019, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA. NAS colloquia began in 1991 and have been published in PNAS since 1995. From February 2001 through May 2019 colloquia were supported by a generous gift from The Dame Jillian and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, & Humanities, in memory of Dame Sackler’s husband, Arthur M. Sackler. The complete program and video recordings of most presentations are available on the NAS website at This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
James G. Boswell Foundation580065
Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for NeuroscienceUNSPECIFIED
Swartz FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of DefenseUNSPECIFIED
Dame Jillian and Dr. Arthur M. Sackler Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, & HumanitiesUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:posterior parietal cortex | brain–machine interface | monkey | tetraplegia | intention
Issue or Number:52
PubMed Central ID:PMC6936686
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20191224-093207859
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Official Citation:From thought to action: The brain–machine interface in posterior parietal cortex. Richard A. Andersen, Tyson Aflalo, Spencer Kellis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Dec 2019, 116 (52) 26274-26279; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1902276116
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100430
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:24 Dec 2019 17:44
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:53

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