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Dynamics of directional tuning and reference frames in humans: A high-density EEG study


Recent developments in EEG recording and signal processing have made it possible to record in an unconstrained, natural movement task, therefore EEG provides a promising approach to understanding the neural mechanisms of upper-limb reaching control. This study specifically addressed how EEG dynamics in the time domain encoded finger movement directions (directional tuning) and posture dependence (movement reference frames) by applying representational similarity analysis. High-density EEG covering the entire scalp was recorded while participants performed eight-directional, center-out reaching movements, thereby allowing us to explore directional selectivity of EEG sources over the brain beyond somatosensory areas. A majority of the source processes exhibited statistically significant directional tuning during peri-movement periods. In addition, directional tuning curves shifted systematically when the shoulder angle was rotated to perform the task within a more laterally positioned workspace, the degree of tuning curve rotation falling between that predicted by models assuming extrinsic and shoulder-based reference frames. We conclude that temporal dynamics of neural mechanisms for motor control can be studied noninvasively in humans using high-density EEG and that directional sensitivity of motor and non-motor processing is not limited within the sensorimotor areas but extends to the whole brain areas.

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