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Neural ensemble dynamics in dorsal motor cortex during speech in people with paralysis

By Sergey D Stavisky, Francis R Willett, Brian A Murphy, Paymon Rezaii, Donald T Avansino, William D Memberg, Jonathan P Miller, Robert F Kirsch, Leigh R. Hochberg, A. Bolu Ajiboye, Krishna V Shenoy, Jaimie M. Henderson

Posted 30 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/505487

Speaking is a sensorimotor behavior whose neural basis difficult to study at the resolution of single neurons due to the scarcity of human intracortical measurements and the lack of animal models. We recorded from electrode arrays in the 'hand knob' area of motor cortex in people with tetraplegia. Neurons in this area, which have not previously been implicated in speech, modulated during speaking and during non-speaking movement of the tongue, lips, and jaw. This challenges whether the conventional model of a 'motor homunculus' division by major body regions extends to the single-neuron scale. Spoken words and syllables could be decoded from single trials, demonstrating the potential utility of intracortical recordings for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to restore speech. Two neural population dynamics features previously reported for arm movements were also present during speaking: a large initial condition-invariant signal, followed by rotatory dynamics. This suggests that common neural dynamical motifs may underlie movement of arm and speech articulators.

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