Funding: European Research Council under EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020

Research Team: Prof. Dario Farina

Host Institution: University of Gottingen 

The generation of a movement is the combination of discrete events (action potentials) generated in the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles. These discrete events are the result of ion exchanges across membranes, electrochemical mechanisms, and active ion pumping through energy expenditure. The ensemble of spike trains discharged in the various parts of the neuromuscular system constitutes the neural code for movements. Recording and interpretation of this code provides the means for decoding the motor system.

Prior to DEMOVE, the main limitation in the investigation of the motor system was the impossibility of detecting and processing in the intact human, during natural movements, the activity of a sufficiently large number of motor neurons and sensory afferents (neural code) to associate a functional meaning to the cellular mechanisms that ultimately determine a movement. This limitation in turn impeded to answer to many fundamental questions on the control of human movements that have tremendous implications in the development of man-machine interface systems.

Under this project, we developed advanced electrode systems for in-vivo electrophysiological recordings from nerves and muscles in humans and new computational methods/models for extracting functionally significant information on human movement from these recordings. These developments have provided the missing link between the cellular mechanisms and the behaviour of the whole motor system in the intact human, i.e. to build the bridge between the neural and functional understanding of movement. These methods also contributed to the development of new schemes for controlling bionic limbs to substitute missing ones in amputee.