When reaching to grasp, we coordinate how we preshape the hand with how we move it. To ask how motor cortical neurons participate in this coordination, we examined the interactions between reach- and grasp-related neuronal ensembles while monkeys reached to grasp a variety of different objects in different locations. By describing the dynamics of these two ensembles as trajectories in a low-dimensional state space, we examined their coupling in time. We found evidence for temporal compensation across many different reach-to-grasp conditions such that if one neural trajectory led in time the other tended to catch up, reducing the asynchrony between the trajectories. Granger causality revealed bidirectional interactions between reach and grasp neural trajectories beyond that which could be attributed to the joint kinematics that were consistently stronger in the grasp-to-reach direction. Characterizing cortical coordination dynamics provides a new framework for understanding the functional interactions between neural populations.
Keywords: motor cortex; neural coordination; neural dynamics; neural trajectories; reach-to-grasp.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.