Our seamless ability to manipulate objects with our hands reflects the sophistication of our sensorimotor system. My laboratory studies the functional organization of cortical areas that support manual dexterity. The overarching questions of my research program include: (1) How do frontal and parietal areas of cortex encode reaching and grasping? (2) What are the organizational principles that confer on those cortical areas their roles?
My lab uses optical imaging in awake behaving monkeys to localize cortical zones involved in grasping. The resultant maps of activation guide our placement of microelectrodes and linear electrode arrays for electrophysiological recordings. We exploit this technique to determine the actions and sensations that individual neurons encode. In addition, we characterize the flow of information across layers of cortex and between cortical zones. We use the same multi-pronged approach and neuroanatomical methods to characterize the cortical connections that support reaching grasping.
Cortical control of hand actions in non-human primates, optical imaging, single unit recording, intracortical micro-stimulation