Awareness and Intent
Neural prosthetics research has typically assumed that decoded neural signals directly reflect the conscious intentions of the user. We tackle this assumption head-on by looking at the relationship between neural signals and conscious intent in subjects participating in a brain-machine interface clinical trial. We find evidence that neural activity recorded during task performance can reflect implicit computations that support task performance but are not directly tied to the participant’s awareness. We have developed sophisticated algorithms that can incorporate knowledge of how both implicit and explicit motor intentions are coded in the neural population.
Proposed map of intentions to reach, saccade, and grasp within the posterior parietal cortex. From Andersen and Buneo 2002.