A functional model and simulation of spinal motor pools and intrafascicular recordings of motoneuron activity in peripheral nerve

Mohamed N. Abdelghani, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Florida International University
James J. Abbas, Arizona State University
Kenneth W. Horch, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Florida International University
Ranu Jung, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Florida International University

© 2014 Abdelghani, Abbas, Horch and Jung. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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.