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Quantitative Motor Control for Decision Making

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QTMODEM (Quantitative Motor Control for Decision Making)

Reporting period: 2016-07-01 to 2018-06-30

The overall goal of the project has been to provide a theoretical context encompassing motivation, motor control theory and decision-making. There are two major issues being addressed in this project; the first is concerned to how the brain relates incentive motivation to behaviour and whether decision-making abides by the same principles of motor control. The second regards the abnormalities of these motor control principles under Parkinson's disease.

The main societal relevance of the project is enabling a wholistic characterization of motivation-related mental states through movement related characterizations, by integrating physiological metrics of motivation into movement related theory. This would operate by first establishing a relationship between non-observable motivation-related physiological processes, to observable and quantifiable metrics of movement, such as velocity, acceleration or shape of movement itself, in a principled fashion. Furthermore, this would indirectly, but importantly, provide a method for the characterization of Parkinson's disease and other motivation related disorders in a principled fashion.

The overal objectives are: first, the development of a novel unifying method of neural dynamics, called Quantitative Motor Control for Decision-Making (QTMODEM), aimed at characterizing the process of selection of motor parameters as a function of external stimuli, and most importantly, of incentive motivation for different kinds of movements. Furthermore, we intend to refer the selection of motor parameters to a novel metric of motivation, derived from a characterization of mental states based on electro-encephalographic signals in the context of a controlled experimental setup. Second, as a necessary means to the previous objective, it was necessary to propose and carry out two series of experiments to record both kinematics and electro-encephalography from healthy subjects while varying two factors in a controlled fashion: the nature of their movement and the subjects’ level of incentive motivation.
- The first practical goal was the acquisition of the 3D tracking system required to performed the kinematic recordings. An Optitrak recording system was purchased by our research funds (previous permission by the Officer). Because of bureaucratic delays, the material was only operational from the 15/09/2016. Experiments were performed until the 31/03/2017.
- Following this, a fisrt trip to Montreal was performed from 01/04/2017 until the 30/06/2017, to perform the second batch of experiments at the University of Montreal, at the laboratories of Profs. Julie Messier and Dave Ellenberg. A second trip was necessary to complete these experiments from 15/09/2017 until 30/10/2017.

The main results of these experiments were first presented at an invited oral presentation at the American Conference of Neuroscience at Washington DC during the same month of October.

- The development of the QTMODEM was finally distributed into two periods, from 01/01/2017 to 31/03/2017, alongside with the first experiments; and from 01/01/2018 to 30/06/2018.The first complexive results were first
The main results of these model were first presented with a poster presentation at the SBDM Workshop in Paris during May 2018, and at an oral presentation at the BARCCSYNC 2018 in Barcelona, during late June 2018.
Also, a first manuscript with a preliminary version of the paper was published in PLoS Biology at the end of 2017:
The main goal of the project is the principled model of motivated motor control and decision-making. The expected final outcome of the project are four publications focusing on different aspects of the study: the manner in which different participants experience effort, the relationship between motivation and their specific selection of motor parameters, and the deviations from baseline caused by Parkinson's disease.

Beyond the state of the art, this project has provided the necessary tools that enable us to trace changes in the participant's physiological motivated state and the principles guiding their movement, both for the case of healthy subjects, as well as for PD patients.
General framework of internal vs. internal motivation.