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On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons

Cerf, Moran and Thiruvengadam, Nikhil and Mormann, Florian and Kraskov, Alexander and Quiroga, Rodrigo Quian and Koch, Christof and Fried, Itzhak (2010) On-line, voluntary control of human temporal lobe neurons. Nature, 467 (7319). pp. 1104-1108. ISSN 0028-0836. PMCID PMC3010923.

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Daily life continually confronts us with an exuberance of external, sensory stimuli competing with a rich stream of internal deliberations, plans and ruminations. The brain must select one or more of these for further processing. How this competition is resolved across multiple sensory and cognitive regions is not known; nor is it clear how internal thoughts and attention regulate this competition. Recording from single neurons in patients implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons, here we demonstrate that humans can regulate the activity of their neurons in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) to alter the outcome of the contest between external images and their internal representation. Subjects looked at a hybrid superposition of two images representing familiar individuals, landmarks, objects or animals and had to enhance one image at the expense of the other, competing one. Simultaneously, the spiking activity of their MTL neurons in different subregions and hemispheres was decoded in real time to control the content of the hybrid. Subjects reliably regulated, often on the first trial, the firing rate of their neurons, increasing the rate of some while simultaneously decreasing the rate of others. They did so by focusing onto one image, which gradually became clearer on the computer screen in front of their eyes, and thereby overriding sensory input. On the basis of the firing of these MTL neurons, the dynamics of the competition between visual images in the subject’s mind was visualized on an external display.

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Mormann, Florian0000-0003-1305-8028
Koch, Christof0000-0001-6482-8067
Fried, Itzhak0000-0002-5962-2678
Additional Information:© 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 8 January; accepted 14 September 2010. We thank the patients for their participation in these studies. We thank K. Laird, A. Postolova, N. Parikshak and V. Isiaka for help with the recordings; E. Behnke and T. Fields for technical support; G. Mulliken and U. Rutishauser for comments on the manuscript; and M. Moon for help with data visualization. This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the G. Harold & Leila Y.Mathers Charitable Foundation, and the WCU programme through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (R31-2008-000-10008-0). Author Contributions: M.C., F.M., R.Q.Q., C.K. and I.F. designed the experiment; M.C. performed the experiments; I.F. performed the surgeries; M.C. and N.T. analysed the data; M.C., C.K. and I.F. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the data and the analysis methods and contributed to the manuscript.
Group:Koch Laboratory (KLAB)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)UNSPECIFIED
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)UNSPECIFIED
G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (Korea)R31-2008-000-10008-0
Issue or Number:7319
PubMed Central ID:PMC3010923
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101101-105008811
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20613
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:23 Nov 2010 16:26
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:12

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