A functional model and simulation of spinal motor pools and intrafascicular recordings of motoneuron activity in peripheral nerve
Decoding motor intent from recorded neural signals is essential for the development of effective neural-controlled prostheses. To facilitate the development of online decoding algorithms we have developed a software platform to simulate neural motor signals recorded with peripheral nerve electrodes, such as longitudinal intrafascicular electrodes (LIFEs). The simulator uses stored motor intent signals to drive a pool of simulated motoneurons with various spike shapes, recruitment characteristics, and firing frequencies. Each electrode records a weighted sum of a subset of simulated motoneuron activity patterns. As designed, the simulator facilitates development of a suite of test scenarios that would not be possible with actual data sets because, unlike with actual recordings, in the simulator the individual contributions to the simulated composite recordings are known and can be methodically varied across a set of simulation runs. In this manner, the simulation tool is suitable for iterative development of real-time decoding algorithms prior to definitive evaluation in amputee subjects with implanted electrodes. The simulation tool was used to produce data sets that demonstrate its ability to capture some features of neural recordings that pose challenges for decoding algorithms.