Electrical stimulation of the proprioceptive cortex (area 3a) used to instruct a behaving monkey

IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng. 2008 Feb;16(1):32-6. doi: 10.1109/TNSRE.2007.907544.


A growing number of brain-machine interfaces have now been developed that allow movements of an external device to be controlled using recordings from the brain. This work has been undertaken with a number of different animal models, as well as several human patients with quadriplegia. The resulting movements, whether of computer cursors or robotic limbs, remain quite slow and unstable compared to normal limb movements. It is an open question, how much of this instability is the result of the limited forward control path, and how much has to do with the total lack of normal proprioceptive feedback. We have begun preliminary studies of the effectiveness of electrical stimulation in the proprioceptive area of the primary somatosensory cortex (area 3a) as a potential means to deliver an artificial sense of proprioception to a monkey. We have demonstrated that it is possible for the monkey to detect brief stimulus trains at relatively low current levels, and to discriminate between trains of different frequencies. These observations need to be expanded to include more complex, time-varying waveforms that could potentially convey information about the state of the limb.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Extremities / innervation
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Motor Cortex / surgery
  • Movement / physiology
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology