A quantitative measure of cortical organization of upper limb torque generation

A. L. Ricamato, Y. Y. Dhaher, J. P.A. Dewald

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to use high-resolution electroencephalography (EEG) to examine the functional organization of the human sensorimotor cortex during voluntary muscle activation of the upper limb. It was hypothesized that separate centers of cortical activation would be responsible for generating joint torques in different directions. Furthermore, it was anticipated that the magnitude of the electrical brain activity scales with joint torque level, while preserving the location of brain activity, which depends on direction in which a torque is generated. A secondary goal was to develop a new analysis technique to rigorously quantify electrical brain activity. A novel quantitative analysis technique incorporating a realistic, subject-specific Boundary Element Method (BEM) head model was devised to create a 3D spatial resultant vector representation of the cortical region(s) of activation. Results indicate that a clear spatiotemporal relationship exists between the location of cortical activity and the magnitude of joint torque generation. Findings also demonstrate the methods developed as part of this study provide the ability to distinguish separate locations of centers of cortical activity not only as a function of joint but more importantly as a function of joint torque direction at a given joint. In conclusion, subject-specific quantitative spatial resultant vector analysis may prove helpful in identifying cortical regions responsible for generating specific joint torque conditions and associated muscle activation patterns. This work may also prove useful for evaluating potentially contrasting motor encoding schemes for cortical neuronal systems; thus distinguishing torque direction/magnitude coding from muscle activation based encoding approaches.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2842-2845
Number of pages4
JournalAnnual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology - Proceedings
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes
Event22nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society - Chicago, IL, United States
Duration: Jul 23 2000Jul 28 2000


  • EEG
  • Imaging
  • MRI
  • Source localization
  • Torque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics


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