An interface with distributed optogenetic cortical feedback

Objective. Distributed microstimulations at the cortical surface can efficiently deliver feedback to a subject during the manipulation of a prosthesis through a brain-machine interface (BMI). Such feedback can convey vast amounts of information to the prosthesis user and may be key to obtain an accurate control and embodiment of the prosthesis. However, so far little is known of the physiological constraints on the decoding of such patterns. Here, we aimed to test a rotary optogenetic feedback that was designed to encode efficiently the 360° movements of the robotic actuators used in prosthetics.

We sought to assess its use by mice that controlled a prosthesis joint through a closed-loop BMI. Approach. We tested the ability of mice to optimize the trajectory of a virtual prosthesis joint in order to solve a rewarded reaching task. They could control the speed of the joint by modulating the activity of individual neurons in the primary motor cortex. During the task, the patterned optogenetic stimulation projected on the primary somatosensory cortex continuously delivered information to the mouse about the position of the joint. Main results. We showed that mice are able to exploit the continuous, rotating cortical feedback in the active behaving context of the task. Mice achieved better control than in the absence of feedback by detecting reward opportunities more often, and also by moving the joint faster towards the reward angular zone, and by maintaining it longer in the reward zone. Mice controlling acceleration rather than speed of the joint failed to improve motor control.

Significance. These findings suggest that in the context of a closed-loop BMI, distributed cortical feedback with optimized shapes and topology can be exploited to control movement. Our study has direct applications on the closed-loop control of rotary joints that are frequently encountered in robotic prostheses.

Learning in a closed-loop brain-machine interface with distributed optogenetic cortical feedback.
Dorian Goueytes, Henri Lassagne, Daniel E Shulz, Valérie Ego-Stengel, Luc Estebanez.

Article published in Journal of Neural EngineeringAccess to the manuscript