Toward prosthetic systems controlled by parietal cortex

Krishna V. Shenoy1, Daniella Meeker2, Shiyan Cao3,
Sohaib A. Kureshi1,4,5, Christopher A. Buneo1,
Aaron P. Batista2,6, Joel W. Burdick3 and Richard A. Andersen1,2

1Division of Biology, Caltech
2Computation and Neural Systems Program, Caltech
3Division of Engineering and Applied Science, Caltech
4Division of Neurosurgery, Duke University
5Neurosurgical Medical Clinic, Inc., San Diego, CA
6Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Neurobiology, Stanford University

The prospect of helping disabled patients, by translating neural activity from the brain into control signals for prosthetic devices, has flourished in recent years. This is due largely to the successful demonstration of robotic arms guided by cortical activity measured during ongoing arm movements. While quite successful to date, this approach may prove less tenable when tested in injured or diseased subjects where execution-related activity may change significantly. To investigate how activity present before, or even without, natural arm movements might be used to control prosthetic devices we measured neural activity in the parietal cortex while monkeys planned to reach to the remembered locations of visual targets. We will describe how such planned, or cognitive, activity from tens of parietal reach region neurons can be used to estimate when and where to move a prosthetic device. We propose that cognitive control signals may be well suited for use in a variety of prosthetic systems.