Decoding attempted phantom hand movements from ipsilateral sensorimotor areas after amputation

L. C.M. Bruurmijn, M. Raemaekers, M. P. Branco, M. J. Vansteensel, N. F. Ramsey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective. The sensorimotor cortex is often selected as target in the development of a Brain-Computer Interface, as activation patterns from this region can be robustly decoded to discriminate between different movements the user executes. Up until recently, such BCIs were primarily based on activity in the contralateral hemisphere, where decoding movements still works even years after denervation. However, there is increasing evidence for a role of the sensorimotor cortex in controlling the ipsilateral body. The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of denervation on the movement representation on the ipsilateral sensorimotor cortex. Approach. Eight subjects with acquired above-elbow arm amputation and nine controls performed a task in which they made (or attempted to make with their phantom hand) six different gestures from the American Manual Alphabet. Brain activity was measured using 7T functional MRI, and a classifier was trained to discriminate between activation patterns on four different regions of interest (ROIs) on the ipsilateral sensorimotor cortex. Main results. Classification scores showed that decoding was possible and significantly better than chance level for both the phantom and intact hands from all ROIs. Decoding both the left (intact) and right (phantom) hand from the same hemisphere was also possible with above-chance level classification score. Significance. The possibility to decode both hands from the same hemisphere, even years after denervation, indicates that implantation of motor-electrodes for BCI control possibly need only cover a single hemisphere, making surgery less invasive, and increasing options for people with lateralized damage to motor cortex like after stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Article number056037
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalJournal of Neural Engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • amputee
  • attempted movement
  • brain computer interface
  • functional MRI
  • machine learning
  • sensorimotor cortex
  • Motor Cortex
  • Movement
  • Sensorimotor Cortex
  • Humans
  • Amputation
  • Hand


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