New Chapt 20-Thinking about movments(1)

New Chapt 20-Thinking about movments(1) - CHAPTER 20...

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213 CHAPTER 20 Thinking About Movements Introductory Comments: Wouldn’t you just love to be able to read someone’s mind? That is exactly what researchers are now doing and they are able to translate the thoughts of a monkey into the actions that the monkey is thinking about. Of course the researchers are not doing this by magic. Rather they are “reading the monkey’s mind” by monitoring the action potentials in about 100 neurons in the motor portions of its cortex. They then fed the action potentials produced by those neurons into a computer that then translates that activity pattern into commands that move a robotic arm. The remarkable thing is that the movements of the robotic arm are exactly what the monkey intended its own arm to do!! In other words, by just “thinking” about moving its arm in a particular way, that pattern of neural activity can be recorded and used to make a robotic arm move in the way the monkey would like to move its own arm. A number of investigators, including Miguel Nicolelis and his colleagues at the Duke University Medical Center, have published series of papers describing their remarkable “mind reading” experiments in both monkeys and humans. These experiments have attracted wide attention, so much so that an entire segment of the News Hour with Jim Lehrer was devoted to reporting on these studies. I have recorded that segment of the News Hour and you can watch it by accessing a website from which it can be downloaded at: Background Before discussing those studies, I would like to provide some background information, which I hope will allow you to better appreciate these remarkable studies. Let’s begin with the portions of the cortex that control movments or motor activity. The most important cortical region is of course the primary motor cortex in the precentral gyrus (Brodmann’s area 4) which provides the largest number of axons to the corticospinal tract. The precentral gyrus, however, is not the only part of the cortex that contributes fibers to the corticospinal tract. The cortical area just in front of the precentral gyrus, the premotor area or Brodmann’s area 6, also sends its fibers to the spinal cord via the corticospinal tract, as do portions of the parietal lobe. These cortical areas are also interconnected via axons that travel from one cortical region to the other. The details need not concern us. The important point is that multiple cortical areas work together for the planning and execution of movements. In the early 1980s, Apostolos Georgopoulos and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins Medical School conducted a series of studies in which they recorded from individual neurons in the motor cortex (precentral gyrus) of behaving monkeys. The monkeys were trained to move their arms and hands in a particular direction and the researchers monitored the action potentials from neurons in the motor cortex while the monkeys made those specific movements (when they
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This note was uploaded on 09/19/2011 for the course BIO 365R taught by Professor Draper during the Spring '08 term at University of Texas.

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New Chapt 20-Thinking about movments(1) - CHAPTER 20...

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