Blind identification of the spinal cord output in humans with high-density electrode arrays implanted in muscles

Sci Adv. 2022 Nov 18;8(46):eabo5040. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abo5040. Epub 2022 Nov 16.


Invasive electromyography opened a new window to explore motoneuron behavior in vivo. However, the technique is limited by the small fraction of active motoneurons that can be concurrently detected, precluding a population analysis in natural tasks. Here, we developed a high-density intramuscular electrode for in vivo human recordings along with a fully automatic methodology that could detect the discharges of action potentials of up to 67 concurrently active motoneurons with 99% accuracy. These data revealed that motoneurons of the same pool receive common synaptic input at frequencies up to 75 Hz and that late-recruited motoneurons inhibit the discharges of those recruited earlier. These results constitute an important step in the population coding analysis of the human motor system in vivo.