Area of Research
Cognitive/Systems Neuroscience, Motor Systems, Theoretical Neuroscience
Neural control of movement, neural prosthetic systems, computational analysis of neural data, neural variability
The brain is not only a remarkable computational organ – capable of feats that stymie the best computers and robots – it is the seat of who we are and all we think. Yet despite such romantic notions, modern systems neuroscience has principally asked how the brain transforms inputs into outputs. This approach has deep historical roots – Descartes, Sherrington – and fabulous modern successes – Mountcastle, Hubel and Wiesel. Yet the brain is clearly more than a glorified input-output device. The neural networks within it do not just respond to external stimuli, they also generate their own activity. A principal goal of my laboratory is to study the neural dynamics responsible for this ability. In particular, I study how primary motor cortex generates the rich temporal patterns of neural activity that are responsible for moving the body. My laboratory also focuses on translating basic science knowledge regarding dynamics into better ‘neural prostheses’: brain-machine interfaces that directly translate neural activity into movement, thus bypassing an injured limb or spinal cord.
Shenoy, K.V., Kaufman, M.T., Sahani, M., and Churchland, M.M. (2011). A dynamical systems view of motor preparation: Implications for neural prosthetic system design. In Progress in Brain Research: Enhancing Performance for Action and Perception, A. Green, E. Chapman, J.F. Kalaska, and F. Lepore, eds. (Elsevier).
Churchland, M.M., Cunningham, J.P., Kaufman, M.T., Ryu, S.I., and Shenoy, K.V. (2010a). Cortical Preparatory Activity: Representation of Movement or First Cog in a Dynamical Machine? Neuron 68, 387-400.
Churchland, M.M.**, Yu, B.M.**, Cunningham, J.P., Sugrue, L.P., Cohen, M.R., Corrado, G.S., Newsome, W.T., Clark, A.M., Hosseini, P., Scott, B.B., Bradley D.C., Smith M.A., Kohn A., Movshon J.A., Armstrong K.M., Moore T., Chang S.W., Snyder L.H., Lisberger S.G., Priebe N.J., Finn I.M., Ferster D., Ryu S.I., Santhanam G., Sahani M., and Shenoy K.V. (2010b). Stimulus onset quenches neural variability: a widespread cortical phenomenon. Nat Neurosci 13, 369-378.
Churchland, M.M., Yu, B.M., Sahani, M., and Shenoy, K.V. (2007). Techniques for extracting single-trial activity patterns from large-scale neural recordings. Curr Opin Neurobiol 17, 609-618.
Churchland, M.M., and Shenoy, K.V. (2007). Delay of movement caused by disruption of cortical preparatory activity. J Neurophysiol 97, 348-359.
Churchland, M.M., Afshar, A., and Shenoy, K.V. (2006). A central source of movement variability. Neuron 52, 1085-1096.