Uniform and non-uniform perturbations in brain-machine interface task elicit similar neural strategies

Michelle Armenta Salas, Stephen Helms Tillery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The neural mechanisms that take place during learning and adaptation can be directly probed with brain-machine interfaces (BMIs). We developed a BMI controlled paradigm that enabled us to enforce learning by introducing perturbations which changed the relationship between neural activity and the BMI’s output. We introduced a uniform perturbation to the system, through a visuomotor rotation (VMR), and a non-uniform perturbation, through a decorrelation task. The controller in the VMR was essentially unchanged, but produced an output rotated at 30° from the neurally specified output. The controller in the decorrelation trials decoupled the activity of neurons that were highly correlated in the BMI task by selectively forcing the preferred directions of these cell pairs to be orthogonal. We report that movement errors were larger in the decorrelation task, and subjects needed more trials to restore performance back to baseline. During learning, we measured decreasing trends in preferred direction changes and cross-correlation coefficients regardless of task type. Conversely, final adaptations in neural tunings were dependent on the type controller used (VMR or decorrelation). These results hint to the similar process the neural population might engage while adapting to new tasks, and how, through a global process, the neural system can arrive to individual solutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number70
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - Aug 23 2016


  • Adaptation
  • Learning
  • Neural control
  • Neural dynamics
  • Neuroprosthetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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