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Neural Prosthetics and Parietal Cortex


Revechkis, Boris (2015) Neural Prosthetics and Parietal Cortex. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9Z31WNK.


In the last decade, research efforts into directly interfacing with the neurons of individuals with motor deficits have increased. The goal of such research is clear: Enable individuals affected by paralysis or amputation to regain control of their environments by manipulating external devices with thought alone. Though the motor cortices are the usual brain areas upon which neural prosthetics depend, research into the parietal lobe and its subregions, primarily in non-human primates, has uncovered alternative areas that could also benefit neural interfaces. Similar to the motor cortical areas, parietal regions can supply information about the trajectories of movements. In addition, the parietal lobe also contains cognitive signals like movement goals and intentions. But, these areas are also known to be tuned to saccadic eye movements, which could interfere with the function of a prosthetic designed to capture motor intentions only. In this thesis, we develop and examine the functionality of a neural prosthetic with a non-human primate model using the superior parietal lobe to examine the effectiveness of such an interface and the effects of unconstrained eye movements in a task that more closely simulates clinical applications. Additionally, we examine methods for improving usability of such interfaces.

The parietal cortex is also believed to contain neural signals relating to monitoring of the state of the limbs through visual and somatosensory feedback. In one of the world’s first clinical neural prosthetics based on the human parietal lobe, we examine the extent to which feedback regarding the state of a movement effector alters parietal neural signals and what the implications are for motor neural prosthetics and how this informs our understanding of this area of the human brain.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:posterior parietal cortex, brain-machine interface, neural prosthetics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computation and Neural Systems
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Andersen, Richard A.
Thesis Committee:
  • Adolphs, Ralph (chair)
  • Siapas, Athanassios G.
  • Murray, Richard M.
  • Andersen, Richard A.
Defense Date:29 May 2015
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Boswell FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05292015-193747262
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8941
Deposited By: Boris Revechkis
Deposited On:13 Jul 2015 22:03
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:08

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[img] Video (AVI) (Video 4.1.4) - Supplemental Material
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