33rd Annual Meeting Program

Our members drive the NCM Annual Meeting program. NCM member perspectives, research, ideas and outlook ensure a rigorous meeting program while providing valuable contributions to ongoing research on motor control. Through a variety of topical multi-author sessions and individual presentations (oral or poster), the meeting provides a rare diversity of style and content that is unique and stimulating.

We look forward to welcoming all members of the NCM community to Dubrovnik, Croatia for the 33rd annual meeting of the society.

Please note the times listed are in local time for Dubrovnik (CEST). 


Detailed Program

Click on the tab for the day you’d like to learn more about.  Further information will be added as it is confirmed.

08:00 – 18:30

Satellite Meeting

Join us for the satellite meeting “Artificial sensorimotor control from restoration to augmentation”.  Find out more about the Satellite Meeting. 

19:00 – 19:30

First timer social

Attending NCM for the first time?  Join other first time attendees prior to the welcome reception.  Key members of the NCM community, and members of the DEI committee, will be in attendance to welcome you to the meeting and walk with you over to the Opening Reception.  A cash bar will be available for this informal networking event.

19:30 – 21:30

Opening reception

Join us to meet up with old colleagues and meet new ones at the opening reception.  A full meal will be provided in an informal networking event with food stations and passed and plated appetizers.  Join us at the Valamar Lacroma outdoor patio to kick off the annual conference!


08:00 – 10:00

Panel I -Neural dynamics of sensorimotor decision making: the role of basal ganglia, motor cortex and prefrontal cortex

Irene Lacal 1, Pierre Boucher 2, David Thura 3, Manuel Molano 4

1German Primate Center, 2 Boston University, 3 INSERM, U1028, CNRS UMR5292, Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, 4 Centre de Recerca Matemàtica

Sensorimotor decision-making is a complex process that requires the integration of cognitive, motivational, and kinematic features for the translation of sensory information into motor output. This concept aligns with the observation of widespread decision signals in the brain, particularly in subcortical and frontal cortical areas known for their involvement in action selection and execution, such as the basal ganglia, the primary motor cortex (M1), the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd), and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC).

What roles do the different brain regions play in the functional continuum from sensory evidence-based decision formation to the kinematics of the response movement? In this panel, we will address this question by focusing on neurophysiological evidence collected from these cortical and subcortical brain areas across multiple model organisms (rats, rhesus macaques and humans).

First, Manuel Molano will talk about how the accumulation of decision evidence shapes response trajectories in rats and humans performing an auditory discrimination task. He will show how prior expectations influence response behavior and vigor in both species and demonstrates that this dynamic can be modelled computationally. Single neuron activity in rat dorso-medial striatum is shown to closely track slow fluctuations of vigor across trials.

David Thura will then discuss the role of the basal ganglia and sensorimotor cortex in action selection and movement vigor. By testing monkeys performing visually-guided choices between reaching movements and a reaching-based foraging task, he demonstrates that basal ganglia are responsible for coordinating and invigorating decisions and actions, leaving the task of selection to the sensorimotor cortex.

To follow, Irene Lacal will talk about the role of M1, PMd and dlPFC in action selection and execution in unconstrained rhesus macaques engaging in a task that requires to choose one of two alternative targets while or before walking towards them. Population dynamics suggest that, when choosing while walking, M1 is engaged primarily in the stepping behavior, leaving the task of selecting between action goals to PMd and dlPFC.

Lastly, Pierre Boucher will discuss the differential role of PMd and dlPFC in decision making. By testing rhesus macaques on a visual discrimination task that decouples perceptual decisions from action choices, he shows that neural population dynamics suggests that dlPFC main task is to solve the perceptual decision, while PMd is mainly involved in action selection.

Taken together, these results suggest the basal ganglia to be involved in action vigor and urgency, dlPFC in solving the perceptual aspects of decisions and M1 and PMd in selecting and executing the behavioral response. This functional specialization and its implications for our understanding of the neural basis of sensorimotor decision-making will be addressed in the final discussion.


10:00 – 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 – 11:05

Early Career Award Talk - Sam McDougle

Cognitive Shaping of Motor Behavior

The fields of motor neuroscience and cognitive psychology are too often siloed. But cognitive processes affect motor behavior in a range of ways, influencing the selection, planning, and learning of movements. In turn, how we move affects what we perceive, closing the loop between cognitive and motor systems. In this talk, I will discuss some recent projects from my lab that highlight the intersection of cognition and motor behavior. I will feature work on how cognitive stages of action planning shape implicit forms of motor learning, the dynamic flow of information from decision-making to movement selection systems, and neural computations that cut across action and visual cognition. Overall, I will try to make the case that studying motor behavior in a vacuum risks missing key stops along the road from thought to action.

11:05 – 13:05

Panel II - Why and how does active control of muscle spindles shape movement?

Surabhi Simha 1, Alessandro Santuz 2, Lena Ting 1, Michael Dimitriou 4

1 Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, 2 Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, 4 Umeå University

Understanding how higher-level control mechanisms integrate with our peripheral sensory systems is necessary to understand how we move. Muscle spindles are sensory organs integral to proprioception and equipped with their own neural drive from the gamma motor neurons that receive descending cortical input. However, due to experimental limitations, little is known about how neural drive to muscle spindles is modulated in movement. In this panel, we will present recent advances in theory, modeling, and experimental approaches to better understand proprioception, particularly muscle spindles. We will articulate a compelling argument that active tuning of the neural drive to muscle spindles alters sensory feedback that shapes the nervous system’s ability to predict and adapt to a dynamic environment. We will use evidence from recent developments in in vivo and genetic manipulations in animals, predictive computational models, and microneurography studies in humans. We hope to promote further research into gamma motor neurons and their control of sensory feedback in adaptive proprioception and action.

Lena Ting will introduce the panel and lead the discussion.

Surabhi Simha will present a neuromechanical framework to understand how biophysical properties of muscles and muscle receptors shape muscle spindle output. Using predictions from a biophysical computational model that simulates the effect of gamma motor drive on muscle spindle output, she will show how gamma drive can sculpt the spindle output in a task-appropriate manner (e.g. posture vs locomotion) as well as dissociate self-generated and imposed forces.

Alessandro Santuz will discuss the current state of the field in quantifying the role of proprioceptive feedback during dynamic motor tasks in vertebrates. He will present data from in vivo behavioral experiments in humans and mice using a mixture of electrophysiology, computational neuroscience and mouse genetics. Such multidisciplinary frameworks can be used to dissect the contributions of neural pathways for proprioception in the generation of robust locomotor output.

Jean-Marc Aimonetti will explicate the use of microneurography to study muscle spindle function in human behavior. He will highlight how descending commands through cognitive and emotional pathways affect muscle spindle sensitivity, allowing them to serve as anticipatory systems that prepare the body to respond appropriately to changes in the environment.

Michael Dimitriou will argue that muscle spindles under fusimotor control are best thought of as signal-processing devices rather than stretch receptors, giving rise to flexible coordinate representations according to task characteristics and goals. He will present data from human microneurography experiments showing that spindle tuning enables the independent preparatory control of reflex muscle stiffness, selective extraction of information during motor adaptation, and segmental stretch reflexes to operate in joint space.


13:05 – 15:30

Posters, Exhibitors and Lunch

15:30 – 17:30

Individual I

O1.1 – A differential influence of the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s Disease on distinct phases of muscle recruitment during visually-guided reaching

Madeline  Gilchrist 1, Rebecca Kozak 1, Margaret Prenger 1, Kathryne (Kasey) Van Hedger 1, Penny Macdonald 1, Brian Corneil 1, Mimma  Anello 1

1 University of Western Ontario

Presenting Author: Madeline Gilchrist


O1.2 – Sound Activates a Dormant Visual-motor Pathway Bypassing Primary Visual Cortex

Tatiana Malevich 1, Ziad Hafed 2, Yue Yu 3, Matthias Baumann 3, Tong Zhang 3

1 University of Tuebingen, 2 Centre for Integrative Neuroscience, 3 Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research

Presenting Author: Tatiana Malevich


O1.3 – Cerebellar encoding of prior knowledge in sensorimotor timing

Julius Koppen 1, Ilse Klinkhamer 1, Marit Runge 1, Devika Narain 1

1 Erasmus Medical Center

Presenting Author: Julius Koppen


O1.4 – Is there more to sequence learning than better anticipation?

Mehrdad Kashefi 1, Joern Diedrichsen 1, J. Andrew Pruszynski 1

1 Western University

Presenting Author: Mehrdad Kashefi


O1.5 – Evidence against replay-mediated offline learning during the first minutes of motor skill acquisition

Anwesha Das 1, Alexandros Karagiorgis 1, Joern Diedrichsen 2, Max-Philipp Stenner 3, Elena Azanon 1

1 University of Magdeburg, 2 Western University, 3 Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg and Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology Magdeburg

Presenting Author: Anwesha Das


O1.6 – Balancing demands for stability and flexibility in the motor system of rats performing multiple motor sequences

Naama Kadmon Harpaz 1, Steffen B. E. Wolff 2, Kiah Hardcastle 3, Rudy Gelb-Bicknell 3, Theodore J. Zwang3, Bence  Olveczky 1

1 Harvard University, 2 University of Maryland School of Medicine, 3Mass General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease

Presenting Author: Naama Kadmon Harpaz

17:30 – 18:30

Trainee social

Sponsored by

All trainees welcome to join us for a casual, networking social following the conclusion of the day.  Network in a casual environment, get to know new people, and enjoy this trainee focused event.

20:00 – onwards

Join us nightly at the identified local pub to network and meet up with other NCM delegates.  Please note, the pub is open to the public and will not be exclusive for NCM delegates with first come, first served for seating.

08:00 – 10:00

Panel III - Closing the loop: the role of feedback in neural population dynamics

Jonathan Michaels 1, Britton Sauerbrei 2, Amy Orsborn 3, Laureline Logiaco 4

1 Western University, 2 Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 3 University of Washington, 4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The dynamical systems view of neural population activity, in which populations of neurons interact over time to produce coordinated patterns of activity, has been very influential in motor control – notably for characterizing cortical activity. This framework has typically been used to understand how goals are represented in motor planning and how this activity is translated into the muscle patterns required for movement, with less emphasis on the online control of movement. In parallel, decades of research have characterized the online, closed-loop control of movement through the lens of feedback control. While these efforts have led to successes in modeling motor behavior and have inspired analyses of neural data, this approach has not converged on a cohesive explanation of neural implementation. In this panel, we will bridge this gap by presenting and discussing evidence from rodents, primates, and computational models detailing how elements of feedback control can be integrated into the dynamical systems framework to provide a cohesive model of closed-loop motor control.

First, Britton Sauerbrei will discuss the complementary role of spinal circuits, the cerebellum, and motor cortex in locomotion when mice need to adapt to changes in limb properties, specifically showing that while motor cortex is not necessary when adaptation is required, activity shifts dramatically, potentially supporting future changes in voluntary control exerted by motor cortex.

Laureline Logiaco will discuss how different regions of the mammalian brain (cerebellum, M1, integrative sensorimotor cortices) can synergize to tackle learned closed-loop sensorimotor tasks, using a modeling approach. Specifically, this framework explains several experimental results in a single working model and makes predictions about task contingencies that require the synergy of many regions or instead mostly rely on a sub-part of the circuit.

Jonathan Michaels will discuss how we can integrate information related to expected future sensory input into frameworks of motor control, specifically showing that sensory expectation signals are present in many cortical areas of macaques, allowing the motor system to react flexibly to unexpected external perturbations.

Finally, Amy Orsborn will discuss how sensory feedback contributes to motor learning in interfaces like brain-computer interfaces, specifically showing that differences in the dimensionality of sensory feedback and movement control space may shape learning dynamics.

The panel concludes with a discussion focused on integrating the results of the talks into a common framework for understanding how different brain regions participate in incorporating sensory feedback in motor commands.

10:00 – 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 – 12:30

Individual II

O2.1 – Using a stochastic optimal control framework to model the control of complex human movement: Application to an aerial acrobatics

Eve Charbonneau 2,  Friedl De Groote 1, Mickaël Begon 2

1 KU Leuven, 2 Université de Montréal

Presenting Author: Eve Charbonneau


O2.2 – Spinal reflex representation in the primary motor cortex

Tatsuya Umeda 1, Osamu Yokoyama 2, Michiaki Suzuki 2, Miki Kaneshige 2, Tadashi Isa 1, Yukio Nishimura 2

1 Kyoto University, 2 Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science

Presenting Author: Tatsuya Umeda


O2.3 – Spinal networks act as a continuous attractor during pause of movement

Salif Komi 1, Jaspreet  Kaur 1, Madelaine Bonfils 1, Jakob  Sørensen 1, Nicolas  Bertram 1, Rune Berg 1

1 University of Copenhagen

Presenting Author: Salif Komi


O2.4 – Distinct contributions of feedback and feedforward control during longitudinal de novo learning

Chen Avraham 1, Firas Mawase 1

1 Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Presenting Author: Chen Avraham


O2.5 – Decision uncertainty as a context for motor memory

Nobuhiro Hagura 1, Kisho Ogasa 1, Atsushi Yokoi 2, Gouki Okazawa 3, Masaya Hirashima 4

1 NICT, 2 National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, 3 Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 4 Center for Information and Neural Networks, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology

Presenting Author: Nobuhiro Hagura


O2.6 – Striatal and cerebellar involvement in reinforcement learning in the human infant brain

Juliana Trach 1, Tristan Yates 1, Sheri Dawoon Choi 1, Lillian Behm 1, Cameron Ellis 2, Samuel McDougle 1, Nicholas Turk-Browne 1

1 Yale University, 2 Stanford University

Presenting Author: Juliana Trach

12:30 – 15:00

Posters, Exhibitors and Lunch

15:00 – 17:00

Panel IV - The underlying mechanisms of motor impairments after stroke

Lior Shmuelof 1, Inbar Avni 1, Stuart Baker 2, Alkis Hadjiosif 3, Jennifer Mak 4

1 Ben Gurion University of the Negev, 2 Newcastle University, 3 Harvard University, 4 Bioengineering Department, University of Pittsburgh

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the western world. Disability after stroke can be driven by a combination of underlying impairments, such as control deficits, loss of dexterity, weakness, spasticity, and pathological synergies. The extent and time-course of recovery may differ across impairments, highlighting the importance of phenotyping for the prognosis of stroke recovery.

The overarching goal of this panel is to review recent approaches towards phenotyping motor impairments after stroke and their underlying mechanisms.  A suggested conceptual approach to phenotyping motor impairments is through the direct and indirect effects of the lesion on motor pathways. Negative signs, such as loss of control and weakness are proposed to be associated with damage to the corticospinal tract (CST), whereas positive signs, such as spasticity and pathological synergies, are suggested to be driven by hyper-activation of the reticulospinal tract (RST).

Avni et al. will present a longitudinal kinematic study of subjects with stroke that shows that weakness and pathological synergies appear together in the early sub-acute stage but show a differential recovery time course, pointing to their dissociable origin. Baker et al., will present a lesion study in monkeys that aims to characterize the origin of positive signs in the primary motor cortex, concluding that positive signs may be associated with a significant loss of CST input to sub-cortical circuits. To further characterize the contribution of cortical areas to motor impairments, Mak et al. will present the results of an rTMS stimulation study in stroke subjects, showing indications of altered non-primary motor area involvement in the control of movement after small, subcortical strokes. Finally, Hadjiosif et al. will take a different approach by studying the consistency between deficits during holding still, hypothesized to reflect RST function, and reaching, which is thought to be dominated by CST function. The reported lack of interaction between holding deficits and reaching deficits provides further support for the dissociable origin of negative and positive signs.

We show that disability after stroke can be conceived as an outcome of a combination of negative and positive signs that may be associated with distinct motor pathways. Moreover, some of the results highlight a causal association between loss of CST input and the hyper-activation of RST and call for a systematic examination of the causes of emergence and recovery of positive signs. The motor pathway account for motor deficits after stroke and the potential dependence between CST and RST may be fundamental for the understanding of general principles in motor control.

17:00 – 17:30

Members' Meeting

Join us to learn more about the society, the financial position, incoming board members and more!

20:00 – onwards

Join us nightly at the identified local pub to network and meet up with other NCM delegates.  Please note, the pub is open to the public and will not be exclusive for NCM delegates.

08:00 – 10:00

Panel V - Feedforward and feedback mechanisms of neural control: theory and applications

Frederic Crevecoeur 1, Friedl De Groote 2, Etienne Burdet 3, David Franklin 4, Janneke Schwaner 5

1 University of Louvain, 2 KU Leuven, 3 Imperial College London, 4 Technical University of Munich, 5 University of California, Irvine

The principles of control theory have advanced but also shaped our understanding of how the brain controls movements, while the combination of computational and experimental results has guided research into the neural correlates of sensorimotor functions. For example, the early introduction of optimal control assumed an open-loop controller capable of selecting efficient trajectories and mapping them to motor commands. Subsequent studies have highlighted the importance of feedback control, which has challenged the nature of trajectory representation in the brain by showing that for some tasks, goal-directed control does not necessarily require a feedforward controller. More recently, feedforward and feedback control mechanisms have been associated with different time frames, the former referring to the gradual acquisition of motor patterns through development and learning, while the latter was prevalent for execution of movement and responses to disturbances. At the interface between these time frames, several studies have demonstrated behavioral and neurophysiological correlations between adaptive motor patterns and responses to perturbations when humans are exposed to changes in limb dynamics. This research required dissecting the neuroanatomy of feedback pathways, leading to a precise description of how the visual and proprioceptive systems engage various feedback loops. The current observations concluded that feedforward and feedback pathways may not be completely separable from functional and behavioral perspectives. The impact of interpreting neural data associated with movement control is enormous, since the sensorimotor pathways involved in feedback control and adaptation must therefore overlap.

In this session, we propose to present recent advances based on similar principles, applied to a wide variety of systems, tasks and populations. More precisely, the success of theoretical control models quickly comes up against the complexity of the human body, which is particularly challenging to describe for locomotion tasks. Modeling the physics of locomotion to understand and evaluate the neural control of gait is a subject that will be addressed (J. Schwaner). The interaction between feedforward and feedback control mechanisms has been exploited to study the multimodal properties of neural control in adaptation tasks including multiple effectors, goals and environments (D. Franklin), interactions between individuals, including typically developing children (E. Burdet), and in response to dynamic changes in the environment (F. Crevecoeur).

As these contributions highlight, we are currently witnessing a paradigmatic shift towards complex tasks, more representative of daily activities. We will discuss how interpreting behavioral data through the lens of a control theoretical approach can shed light on the nature of the underlying neural controller, potential dysfunctions, as well as the limits of our current understanding.

10:00 – 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 – 12:30

Panel VI - Neural control of speech: What did we miss in the last 20 years?

Elvira Pirondini 1, Sergey Stavisky 2, Ludo Max 3, Marc Slutzky 4, Nicholas Card 2

1 University of Pittsburgh, 2 University of California, Davis, 3 University of Washington, 4 Northwestern University

Planning and executing motor behaviors requires orchestrating neural activity among multiple cortical and subcortical regions. Interestingly, the coordination between these brain areas underlying movement and speech generation appear to share similarities. The field of speech neural control has recognized this affinity by leveraging knowledge and technologies developed for limb movements to investigate speech production and promote functional recovery in patients with neurological injury. However, these explorations have so far remained marginal in the community of Neural Control of Movement. We believe that sharing recent progress in studying the neural control of speech could now close the loop by benefiting researchers working on upper and lower-limb motor control. For this, Dr. Ludo Max will open the panel by discussing recent behavioral studies that focus on sensorimotor interactions in the context of orofacial speech movements in neurologically healthy individuals with an emphasis on similarities and differences with paradigms for limb sensorimotor learning. Dr. Marc Slutzky will then continue along this line showing how the cortical encoding of speech production has homologous hierarchical organization with that of upper-limb movements and how non-frontal cortices may contribute to speech production. Dr. Nicholas Card will then steer the panel towards novel advances in neurotechnology for speech motor deficits. He will show that brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), which have until recently been primarily developed for limb restoration applications, have now reached a level of performance in the speech BCI domain suitable for clinical deployment for restoring rapid communication to people living with severe dysarthria. In particular, he will show a novel accurate and rapidly-calibrating method that could benefit other BCI applications. Dr. Elvira Pirondini will continue in this direction showing her recent results on the use of deep brain stimulation to improve hand motor control and how these results translate to restore natural speech. Finally, Dr. Sergey Stavisky will drive the discussion around an important question: what did we miss in the last 20 years in the field of speech neural control that could now be leveraged for advancing our knowledge in speech and limb motor control and restoration of volitional functions?

12:30 – 15:00

Posters, Exhibitors and Lunch

15:30 – onwards

Free time or excursions

Get out and experience Dubrovnik!  Further information regarding excursion options can be found on the Excursions page.

08:00 – 10:00

Panel VII - Spinal cord and brainstem control of upper limb movements. Is it time to revisit our cortically-centered view of hand motor control and learning?

Shahab Vahdat 1, Julien Doyon 2, Sho Sugawara 3, Veronique Marchand-Pauvert 4

1 University of Florida, 2 McGill University, 3 Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science, 4 Inserm, Sorbonne Université

Our classical view of neural control of movement states that the execution of goal-directed upper limb movements mainly relies on the activation of cortical motor areas, such as primary motor and premotor cortices. On the other hand, postural and balance control heavily relies on the activation of brainstem motor nuclei, such as the reticular formation. Growing evidence from animal work is starting to challenge this view by demonstrating active involvement of multiple brainstem and intersegmental spinal cord circuits in the execution of goal-directed forelimb movements, including the medullary reticular formation and the propriospinal neurons at C3-C4 cervical levels. What is the relationship between the activities of brainstem and intersegmental spinal cord centers and cortical motor areas in upper limb motor control? Do these findings extend to humans with a more developed corticospinal pathway? Are they also involved in motor planning and motor learning? In this panel, we will explore these questions across multiple levels of the central nervous system (cortical, brainstem, spinal cord), in various behavioral paradigms and processes involving upper limb movements (planning, execution, learning), and across multiple model organisms (humans, mice). First, Shahab Vahdat will discuss the contribution of brainstem and spinal cord activity in hand/forepaw force control, using innovative fMRI protocols enabling assessment of task-related brain and spinal cord connectivity in humans and mice. Shahab will discuss the modular organization of functional connectivity between medullary reticular formation, C3-C4 propriospinal system, and cortical motor areas involved in hand force control. Second, Sho Sugawara will detail the structural features of brain-spinal cord pathways to clarify the anatomical basis for voluntary motor control. Sho will further discuss premovement activity in brain-spinal cord pathways using simultaneous brain-spinal cord fMRI. Sho’s work delineates how premovement spinal cord activation may contribute to motor planning in humans. Third, Veronique Marchand-Pauvert will discuss the functional role of propriospinal neurons in hand motor control. Veronique will discuss the origins of cortical inputs to the C3-C4 propriospinal neurons using a combination of TMS and peripheral nerve stimulation. Her work suggests a direct descending control of propriospinal transmission from premotor cortex in humans. Lastly, Julien Doyon will discuss a comprehensive view on neural substrates of motor sequence learning in humans, in which spinal cord local circuits play an active role in this process. Using simultaneous spinal cord-brain fMRI, Julien will discuss several lines of evidence showing learning-induced changes in the spinal cord circuits across various stages of learning, and how they relate to cortical and subcortical activations. The panel will conclude with a discussion focusing on the themes emerging across the talks led by Leonardo Cohen.

10:00 – 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 – 12:30

Individual III

O3.1 – Differential roles of the cerebellum and basal ganglia in decision making

Sabrina Abram 1, Jonathan Tsay 2, Tianhe Wang 1, Samuel McDougle 3, Richard Ivry 4

1 University of California, Berkeley, 2 University of Cambridge, 3 Yale University, 4 University of California

Presenting Author: Sabrina Abram


O3.2 – The hand outperforms the eyes at localizing somatosensory targets

Marion Naffrechoux 1, Eric Koun 2, Alessandro Farnè 2, Alice Catherine Roy 3, Denis Pélisson 2

1 Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (IMPACT Team), 2 Lyon Neuroscience Research Center (CRNL), IMPACT Team, 3 Dynamique Du Langage Laboratory

Presenting Author: Marion Naffrechoux


O3.3 – Cerebellar input and output circuits for dexterous movement

Eiman Azim 1, Ayesha Thanawalla 1, Oren Wilcox 1, Kee Wui Huang 1, Elischa Sanders 1

1 Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Presenting Author: Eiman Azim


O3.4 – Kinematic and kinetic signals in monkey and human motor cortex

Elizaveta Okorokova 1, John Downey 1, Charles Greenspon 1, Sliman Bensmaia 1, Anton Sobinov 1

1 University of Chicago

Presenting Author: Elizaveta Okorokova


O3.5 – Leveraging preparatory activity from the human motor cortex for high performance brain-computer interface control

Mattia Rigotti-Thompson 1, Yahia Ali 1, Samuel Nason-Tomaszewski 1, Claire Nicolas 2, Nick Hahn 3, Donald Avansino 3, Domenick Mifsud 1, Kaitlyn Tung 4, Shane Allcroft 5, Jaimie Henderson 3, Leigh Hochberg 6, Nicholas Au Yong 1, Chethan Pandarinath1

1 Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology, 2 Massachusetts General Hospital, 3 Stanford University, 4 Georgia Institute of Technology, 5 Brown University 6 Brown University & Massachusetts General Hospital

Presenting Author: Mattia Rigotti-Thompson


O3.6 – Vestibular stabilization drives gaze control strategies in primate locomotion

Oliver Stanley 1, Ruihan Wei 1, Kathleen Cullen 1

1 Johns Hopkins University

Presenting Author: Oliver Stanley

12:30 – 15:00

Posters and Lunch

15:00 – 17:00

Panel VIII - Current debates on the integration of touch and movement

Tobias Heed 1, Konstantina Kilteni 2, Matej Hoffmann 3, Katja Fiehler 4

1 University of Salzburg, 2 Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University , 3 Czech Technical University in Prague, 4 University of Giessen

Sensorimotor research has had a strong focus on visual and proprioceptive information for movement planning and execution. Touch has received much less attention in motor control research, even though movements are often directed towards tactile events, such as an itch or a tap on the shoulder, and every movement evokes tactile sensory input, such as contact with an object (hands) or the ground (feet), hitting an obstacle, or movement of clothing on the skin.

Tactile processing has received more attention in other areas of (cognitive) neuroscience, for instance in the domain of multisensory processing, in which movement is, however, often not taken into account. Yet, research has begun to grow together across domains over the last decade, and there are now a number of ongoing debates on the processing of touch in the context of movement. Our symposium turns to two such debated tactile-motor topics: (1) the attenuation, or suppression, of tactile input when movement is planned or executed; and (2) the spatial coding of tactile events. Our aim is to show how seemingly “clear and logical” ideas have turned out to be incorrect, and to give an outlook on the currently debated, possible alternative explanations.

Regarding (1), human participants are often less sensitive to tactile input when they plan or perform a movement than in non-movement contexts. Current debates revolve around the question whether tactile sensitivity reduction involves predictions of forward models, or whether touch is generally reduced by default during movement. Our talks will highlight different approaches to this question, both in the context of movement towards the own body “ that is, sensitivity reduction for the touch one produces oneself as opposed to the touch one receives without planning “ and movement to other objects “ that is, when touch is “collateral”, rather than related to the movement goal per se.

Regarding (2), the focus on visuo-motor paradigms in motor research has stimulated theories about visuo-motor and tactile-motor processing as being analogous. A key tenet of tactile-spatial processing emerging from this approach has been that touch is transformed into a “3D-like, visual” spatial code, and that this 3D spatial code is the basis for planning movement towards touch. On the one hand, findings from neuroimaging seem to fit well with this idea. On the other hand, recent findings from both multisensory decision making and infant tactile-motor development call this idea into question, suggesting that tactile processing may not involve recoding into 3D space and, thus, refuting the idea that visuo- and tactile-motor processing are analogous.

In sum, our symposium focuses on two areas of tactile-motor processing to sketch out the positions of the respective debates, highlight emerging theories and approaches, and point out potential (non-) analogies to visuo-motor theories.

17:00 – 18:00

Distinguished Career Award Presentation - Eberhard Fetz

On the “Neural Control of Movement”

Assuming that the neural control of movement poses answerable questions, we have investigated the relations between primate motor cortex cells and muscles using diverse approaches. First, we trained monkeys to activate motor cortex cells, hoping to reveal their “muscle fields”; this quickly proved to be untenable because monkeys could make many different movements (or none) to fire any cell.  Moreover, even consistently correlated cells and muscles could be readily dissociated by operant conditioning.  Focusing next on those cells whose spikes causally facilitate muscles (probably via monosynaptic corticomotoneuronal connections) we discovered a variety of relationships in their relative firing patterns.  Remarkably, monkeys could even dissociate the activity of CM cells from their target muscles, in both directions (still unpublished), showing that the relative activation of these directly connected elements is surprisingly flexible. The explicit coding of movement parameters by populations of cortical cells turns out to be slippery as well: many different parameters can be extracted from the same population of cells with simple linear decoders.  Trajectories of population activity in multidimensional neural space have led to the concept of lower-dimensional manifolds constraining dynamics, suggesting that explanations of movement control are better sought in the properties of manifolds than the roles of individual neurons.  Such descriptive exercises are conceptually seductive but evade the harder details about how neural computation in the brain causally generates volitional movements. Toward that end, experiments combining operant conditioning with multiunit recording and neural network modeling could provide further insights.


18:00 – 19:00

Closing Drinks Reception

Following the Distinguished Career Award presentation and talk, join us for a drink to celebrate NCM 2024!