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Pandarinath C, Ames KC, Russo AA, Farshchian A, Miller LE, Dyer EL, Kao JC.2018. Latent factors and dynamics in motor cortex and their application to brain-machine interfaces. PeerJ Preprints6:e27217v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.27217v1
In the fifty years since Evarts first recorded single neurons in motor cortex of behaving monkeys, great effort has been devoted to understanding their relation to movement. Yet these single neurons exist within a vast network, the nature of which has been largely inaccessible. With advances in recording technologies, algorithms, and computational power, the ability to study network-level phenomena is increasing exponentially. Recent experimental results suggest that the dynamical properties of these networks are critical to movement planning and execution. Here we discuss this dynamical systems perspective, and how it is reshaping our understanding of the motor cortices. Following an overview of key studies in motor cortex, we discuss techniques to uncover the “latent factors” underlying observed neural population activity. Finally, we discuss efforts to leverage these factors to improve the performance of brain-machine interfaces, promising to make these findings broadly relevant to neuroengineering as well as systems neuroscience.