Where Does the Population Vector of Motor Cortical Cells Point during Reaching Movements?

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 11 (NIPS 1998)

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Pierre Baraduc, Emmanuel Guigon, Yves Burnod


Visually-guided arm reaching movements are produced by distributed neural networks within parietal and frontal regions of the cerebral cortex. Experimental data indicate that (I) single neurons in these regions are broadly tuned to parameters of movement; (2) appropriate commands are elaborated by populations of neurons; (3) the coordinated action of neu(cid:173) rons can be visualized using a neuronal population vector (NPV). How(cid:173) ever, the NPV provides only a rough estimate of movement parameters (direction, velocity) and may even fail to reflect the parameters of move(cid:173) ment when arm posture is changed. We designed a model of the cortical motor command to investigate the relation between the desired direction of the movement, the actual direction of movement and the direction of the NPV in motor cortex. The model is a two-layer self-organizing neural network which combines broadly-tuned (muscular) proprioceptive and (cartesian) visual information to calculate (angular) motor commands for the initial part of the movement of a two-link arm. The network was trained by motor babbling in 5 positions. Simulations showed that (1) the network produced appropriate movement direction over a large part of the workspace; (2) small deviations of the actual trajectory from the desired trajectory existed at the extremities of the workspace; (3) these deviations were accompanied by large deviations of the NPV from both trajectories. These results suggest the NPV does not give a faithful image of cortical processing during arm reaching movements.

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P. Baraduc, E. Guigon and Y. Burnod