A dynamical neural network model for motor cortical activity during movement: population coding of movement trajectories
As a dynamical model for motor cortical activity during hand movement we consider an artificial neural network that consists of extensively interconnected neuron-like units and performs the neuronal population vector operations. Local geometrical parameters of a desired curve are introduced into the network as an external input. The output of the model is a time-dependent direction and length of the neuronal population vector which is calculated as a sum of the activity of directionally tuned neurons in the ensemble. The main feature of the model is that dynamical behavior of the neuronal population vector is the result of connections between directionally tuned neurons rather than being imposed externally. The dynamics is governed by a system of coupled nonlinear differential equations. Connections between neurons are assigned in the simplest and most common way so as to fulfill basic requirements stemming from experimental findings concerning the directional tuning of individual neurons and the stabilization of the neuronal population vector, as well as from previous theoretical studies. The dynamical behavior of the model reveals a close similarity with the experimentally observed dynamics of the neuronal population vector. Specifically, in the framework of the model it is possible to describe a geometrical curve in terms of the time series of the population vector. A correlation between the dynamical behavior of the direction and the length of the population vector entails a dependence of the "neural velocity" on the curvature of the tracing trajectory that corresponds well to the experimentally measured covariation between tangential velocity and curvature in drawing tasks.