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A synergy-based hand control is encoded in human motor cortical areas

Leo, Andrea and Handjaras, Giacomo and Bianchi, Matteo and Marino, Hamal and Gabiccini, Marco and Guidi, Andrea and Scilingo, Enzo Pasquale and Pietrini, Pietro and Bicchi, Antonio and Santello, Marco and Ricciardi, Emiliano A synergy-based hand control is encoded in human motor cortical areas. eLife, 5. e13420. ISSN 2050-084X (2016)

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How the human brain controls hand movements to carry out different tasks is still debated. The concept of synergy has been proposed to indicate functional modules that may simplify the control of hand postures by simultaneously recruiting sets of muscles and joints. However, whether and to what extent synergic hand postures are encoded as such at a cortical level remains unknown. Here, we combined kinematic, electromyography, and brain activity measures obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging while subjects performed a variety of movements towards virtual objects. Hand postural information, encoded through kinematic synergies, were represented in cortical areas devoted to hand motor control and successfully discriminated individual grasping movements, significantly outperforming alternative somatotopic or muscle-based models. Importantly, hand postural synergies were predicted by neural activation patterns within primary motor cortex. These findings support a novel cortical organization for hand movement control and open potential applications for brain-computer interfaces and neuroprostheses.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.7554/eLife.13420
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hand control; Synergies; fMRI; Encoding; Decoding; Motor cortex
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Research Area: Computer Science and Applications
Depositing User: Caterina Tangheroni
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2016 10:32
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2016 08:28
URI: http://eprints.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/3170

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