James Bonaiuto

Noninvasive dissection of sensorimotor cortical circuits using high precision MEG

Understanding the dynamics of cortical circuits is fundamental for unraveling the brain's information processing mechanisms. Recent advancements in magnetoencephalography (MEG) recording and analysis techniques have revolutionized the non-invasive study of cortical circuit dynamics in human subjects. In this talk, I will explore the capabilities of high precision MEG, which has been successfully employed to validate long-standing theories regarding the dominance of frequency-specific neural activity across cortical layers in the visual and sensorimotor cortices, estimate the orientation of cortical columns, and infer the temporal dynamics of laminar activity during event-related neural fields. I will also present our ongoing research that combines these techniques with computational modeling to investigate the generation of beta bursts in the sensorimotor cortex. By focusing on neural field potentials rather than time-frequency activity, we unveil a diverse range of burst waveform shapes, suggesting that sensorimotor beta bursts are not homogeneous events, but rather reflect distinct computational processes. The non-invasive and global nature of high precision MEG and its ability to provide detailed insights into the laminar dynamics of cortical circuits offer promising avenues for bridging the gap between circuit-level understanding in animal models and large-scale brain networks in humans.


James Bonaiuto is a tenured group leader at the CNRS Institut des Sciences Cognitives in Lyon and head of the Decision, Action, and Neural Computation (DANC) lab. He obtained a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of Southern California in 2010, developing computational models of cortical networks involved in reaching and grasping under the supervision of Michael Arbib. He then went on to work with Richard Andersen at the California Institute of Technology as a Swartz Foundation fellow and developed an integrative model of effector- and value-based decision making. He then moved to University College London working with Sven Bestmann and Gareth Barnes to develop the use of subject-specific head-casts for high precision, laminar MEG. Dr. Bonaiuto was recently awarded an ERC consolidator grant to study the mechanisms, functional roles, and development of sensorimotor beta bursts.