Encoding of kinetic and kinematic movement parameters in the sensorimotor cortex: A Brain-Computer Interface perspective

Eur J Neurosci. 2019 Sep;50(5):2755-2772. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14342. Epub 2019 Jan 30.


For severely paralyzed people, Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) can potentially replace lost motor output and provide a brain-based control signal for augmentative and alternative communication devices or neuroprosthetics. Many BCIs focus on neuronal signals acquired from the hand area of the sensorimotor cortex, employing changes in the patterns of neuronal firing or spectral power associated with one or more types of hand movement. Hand and finger movement can be described by two groups of movement features, namely kinematics (spatial and motion aspects) and kinetics (muscles and forces). Despite extensive primate and human research, it is not fully understood how these features are represented in the SMC and how they lead to the appropriate movement. Yet, the available information may provide insight into which features are most suitable for BCI control. To that purpose, the current paper provides an in-depth review on the movement features encoded in the SMC. Even though there is no consensus on how exactly the SMC generates movement, we conclude that some parameters are well represented in the SMC and can be accurately used for BCI control with discrete as well as continuous feedback. However, the vast evidence also suggests that movement should be interpreted as a combination of multiple parameters rather than isolated ones, pleading for further exploration of sensorimotor control models for accurate BCI control.

Keywords: electrophysiology; functional magnetic resonance imaging; human; non-human primates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Brain-Computer Interfaces*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fingers / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Sensorimotor Cortex / physiology*