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Integrating Cortical Sensorimotor Representations Across Spatial Scales and Task Contexts

Royston, Dylan (2020) Integrating Cortical Sensorimotor Representations Across Spatial Scales and Task Contexts. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Our understanding of how brains function is stratified between two very different scales: mesoscale (what function a given cortical area performs), measured with tools like fMRI; and microscale (what a given neuron does), measured with implanted microelectrodes. While extensive research has been done to characterize brain activity at both of these spatial scales, describing relationships between these two domains has proven difficult. Identifying ways to integrate findings between these scales is valuable for both research and clinical applications, but is particularly important for intracortical brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which aim to restore motor function after paralysis or amputation. In humans, the brain is much larger than the available microelectrode arrays, so determining where to place the arrays is a critical aspect of ensuring optimal performance. BCIs preferentially target primary motor and somatosensory cortices, due to their direct relationship to motor control and critical role in skilled and dexterous movements. However, despite these areas displaying a relatively ordered spatial organization, it is difficult to accurately predict the behavior of neurons recorded from a given area for several reasons. Mesoscale activity is overlapping, with activity relating to multiple different movements observed in a single area. Additionally, neurons have flexible behavior, displaying different “tuning” to similar behavior under different contexts.
Here I present my research integrating neuroimaging-based cortical mapping with directly-recorded neural activity in human sensorimotor cortex. First, I examine how the large-scale organization of sensorimotor representations measured with fMRI is affected by contextual sensory information. I then examine how spatially separate neural populations recorded with intracortical microelectrode arrays encode different types of movement. Finally, I examine whether how population encoding changes to reflect contextual sensory information using the same task as in the fMRI study. Together, these results provide a foundation for reconciling neural activity across spatial scales and task contexts, and will inform the design and placement of more capable BCI systems.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Royston, Dylandylan.a.royston@gmail.comdar1470000-0001-7370-3637
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCollinger,
Committee MemberGaunt,
Committee MemberBatista,
Committee MemberVerstynen,
Date: 29 January 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 November 2019
Approval Date: 29 January 2020
Submission Date: 19 November 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 142
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: brain computer interface, neurotechnology, motor control, cortex, cortical activity, electrophysiology, neuroimaging, sensorimotor, intracortical, fMRI
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 15:15
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2020 15:15

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  • Integrating Cortical Sensorimotor Representations Across Spatial Scales and Task Contexts. (deposited 29 Jan 2020 15:15) [Currently Displayed]


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