How the Brain Generates Movement

In this study, we assume that the brain uses a general-purpose pattern generator to transform static commands into basic movement segments. We hypothesize that this pattern generator includes an oscillator whose complete cycle generates a single movement segment. In order to demonstrate this hypothesis, we construct an oscillator-based model of movement generation. The model includes an oscillator that generates harmonic outputs whose frequency and amplitudes can be modulated by external inputs. The harmonic outputs drive a number of integrators, each activating a single muscle. The model generates muscle activation patterns composed of rectilinear and harmonic terms. We show that rectilinear and fundamental harmonic terms account for known properties of natural movements, such as the invariant bell-shaped hand velocity profile during reaching. We implement these dynamics by a neural network model and characterize the tuning properties of the neural integrator cells, the neural oscillator cells, and the inputs to the system. Finally, we propose a method to test our hypothesis that a neural oscillator is a central component in the generation of voluntary movement.

Authors: Uri Rokni; Haim Sompolinsky
Year of publication: 2011
Journal: Neural computation, Volume 24(2):289-331 (2011)

Link to publication:


“Working memory”