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The human primary somatosensory cortex encodes imagined movement in the absence of sensory information

Jafari, Matiar and Aflalo, Tyson and Chivukula, Srinivas and Kellis, Spencer Sterling and Salas, Michelle Armenta and Norman, Sumner Lee and Pejsa, Kelsie and Liu, Charles Y. and Andersen, Richard Alan (2020) The human primary somatosensory cortex encodes imagined movement in the absence of sensory information. Communications Biology, 3 (1). Art. No. 757. ISSN 2399-3642. doi:10.1038/s42003-020-01484-1.

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Classical systems neuroscience positions primary sensory areas as early feed-forward processing stations for refining incoming sensory information. This view may oversimplify their role given extensive bi-directional connectivity with multimodal cortical and subcortical regions. Here we show that single units in human primary somatosensory cortex encode imagined reaches in a cognitive motor task, but not other sensory–motor variables such as movement plans or imagined arm position. A population reference-frame analysis demonstrates coding relative to the cued starting hand location suggesting that imagined reaching movements are encoded relative to imagined limb position. These results imply a potential role for primary somatosensory cortex in cognitive imagery, engagement during motor production in the absence of sensation or expected sensation, and suggest that somatosensory cortex can provide control signals for future neural prosthetic systems.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Jafari, Matiar0000-0002-2224-4896
Aflalo, Tyson0000-0002-0101-2455
Chivukula, Srinivas0000-0002-3570-162X
Kellis, Spencer Sterling0000-0002-5158-1058
Salas, Michelle Armenta0000-0002-0634-2891
Norman, Sumner Lee0000-0001-9945-697X
Andersen, Richard Alan0000-0002-7947-0472
Additional Information:© 2020 The Author(s). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit Received 26 February 2020; Accepted 15 November 2020; Published 11 December 2020. This work was supported by the National Institute of Health (R01EY015545, 5U01NS098975-02), the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Brain-machine Interface Center at Caltech, the Conte Center for Social Decision Making at Caltech (P50MH094258), the David Geffen Medical Scholarship, and the Boswell Foundation. The authors would also like to thank subject FG for participating in the studies, and Viktor Scherbatyuk for technical assistance. Data availability: All primary behavioral and neurophysiological data are archived in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology and are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Source data underlying plots shown in figures are provided in Supplementary Data 1. Code availability: All custom-written analysis code is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request. Author Contributions: M.J., T.A., and R.A.A designed the study. M.J. and T.A developed experimental tasks, designed analysis and analyzed the data. M.J., S.C., S.S.K, and M.A.S. collected the data. S.L.N contributed code. M.J. and T.A. interpreted results and wrote the original draft. M.J., T.A., S.C., and R.A.A. reviewed and edited the paper. T.A. and R.A.A. provided mentorship. T.A., S.K., and R.A.A. acquired funding. K.P. provided administrative and regulatory assistance. C.Y.L. performed implantation surgery. The authors declare no competing interests.
Group:Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for NeuroscienceUNSPECIFIED
David Geffen Medical ScholarshipUNSPECIFIED
James G. Boswell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Brain–machine interface; Cognitive neuroscience; Cortex
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201211-103009385
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Official Citation:Jafari, M., Aflalo, T., Chivukula, S. et al. The human primary somatosensory cortex encodes imagined movement in the absence of sensory information. Commun Biol 3, 757 (2020).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107035
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:11 Dec 2020 18:53
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:59

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