Neural states in parietal areas during arm reaching

Diomedi, Stefano (2021) Neural states in parietal areas during arm reaching, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze biomediche e neuromotorie, 34 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/9991.
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Since the first subdivisions of the brain into macro regions, it has always been thought a priori that, given the heterogeneity of neurons, different areas host specific functions and process unique information in order to generate a behaviour. Moreover, the various sensory inputs coming from different sources (eye, skin, proprioception) flow from one macro area to another, being constantly computed and updated. Therefore, especially for non-contiguous cortical areas, it is not expected to find the same information. From this point of view, it would be inconceivable that the motor and the parietal cortices, diversified by the information encoded and by the anatomical position in the brain, could show very similar neural dynamics. With the present thesis, by analyzing the population activity of parietal areas V6A and PEc with machine learning methods, we argue that a simplified view of the brain organization do not reflect the actual neural processes. We reliably detected a number of neural states that were tightly linked to distinct periods of the task sequence, i.e. the planning and execution of movement and the holding of target as already observed in motor cortices. The states before and after the movement could be further segmented into two states related to different stages of movement planning and arm posture processing. Rather unexpectedly, we found that activity during the movement could be parsed into two states of equal duration temporally linked to the acceleration and deceleration phases of the arm. Our findings suggest that, at least during arm reaching in 3D space, the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) shows low-level population neural dynamics remarkably similar to those found in the motor cortices. In addition, the present findings suggest that computational processes in PPC could be better understood if studied using a dynamical system approach rather than studying a mosaic of single units.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Diomedi, Stefano
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Hidden Markov Models, Parietal Cortex, Neural States, V6A, PEc, Neural Dynamics
Data di discussione
25 Novembre 2021

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