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Published November 18, 2015 | Published
Journal Article Open

Hand Shape Representations in the Human Posterior Parietal Cortex


Humans shape their hands to grasp, manipulate objects, and to communicate. From nonhuman primate studies, we know that visual and motor properties for grasps can be derived from cells in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). Are non-grasp-related hand shapes in humans represented similarly? Here we show for the first time how single neurons in the PPC of humans are selective for particular imagined hand shapes independent of graspable objects. We find that motor imagery to shape the hand can be successfully decoded from the PPC by implementing a version of the popular Rock-Paper-Scissors game and its extension Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock. By simultaneous presentation of visual and auditory cues, we can discriminate motor imagery from visual information and show differences in auditory and visual information processing in the PPC. These results also demonstrate that neural signals from human PPC can be used to drive a dexterous cortical neuroprosthesis.

Additional Information

© 2015 the authors. Beginning six months after publication the Work will be made freely available to the public on SfN's website to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Received July 20, 2015. Revision received September 22, 2015. Accepted October 16, 2015. This work was supported by the NIH (grants EY013337, EY015545, and P50 MH942581A), the Boswell Foundation, the USC Neurorestauration Center, and DoD contract N66001-10-C-4056. We thank Viktor Shcherbatyuk for computer assistance, Tessa Yao, Alicia Berumen, and Sandra Oviedo for administrative support; Kirsten Durkin for nursing assistance; and our colleagues from the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins University for technical support with the robotic limb. Author contributions: C.K. and R.A.A. designed research; C.K., S.K., T.A., B.L., K.P., K.S., S.H.-J., M.A., C.H., and C.L. performed research; C.K. analyzed data; C.K. and R.A.A. wrote the paper. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023